Guest Blog: Six of My Favorite Ghost Stories by John C. Adams

Six of My Favourite Ghost Stories

 As an author and critic of horror fiction, there’s nothing I love more than a good ghost story. I’ve picked six of my all-time favourites to share in this article. Will yours be among them?

 1. At Chrighton Abbey by Mary Elizabeth Braddon – My first choice is a very traditional tale. In the run-up to Christmas, Sarah (a poor relation to the wealthy family who lives at the abbey) returns home from long-term employment abroad as a governess and pays her cousins a visit. She reconnects with her English identity in the best way possible: by fancying that her ancient room is haunted. She dismisses the notion as irrational and foolish and beneath a sensible woman of her age and temperament only to become sucked into her cousin’s concerns about her son, the heir to the abbey. The Chrightons are a cursed family and every hundred years or so something awful happens when a ghostly pack of hounds appears.

 2. The Phantom Coach by Amelia B Edwards – My second choice is a variation on the typical ghost story, in that it doesn’t feature a haunted house or castle, although the isolated farmhouse where the narrator takes shelter from a terrible storm has plenty of oddity about it and his host is decidedly unfriendly. Instead, it is a vehicle in which the narrator takes refuge from the heavy snowfall that conveys ghostly passengers along a neglected and dangerous country road in the dead of night. Although this tale is unusual in focusing upon a mode of transport, it sticks true to the other traditions of the ghost story: the wintry season, the isolated house, the lone narrator who starts the tale by reassuring us of his survival. It’s all here!

 3. The Kit Bag by Algernon Blackwood – No one tells a ghost story quite like Algernon Blackwood, and he always stamps his own identity upon the tale. I used to be a lawyer before I became a writer, so I like that this story revolves around a barrister who works hard to secure the release of a vicious murderer on the grounds of his insanity. By the end of the trial, his private secretary is so traumatized that he needs a holiday to recuperate. It’s winter, of course, so he’s going to the Alps and asks to borrow a stout canvas kit bag for his ski clothes. This story respects the many traditions of the ghost story, but again here it is an object (the kit bag, of course) where the ghostly spirit resides.

 4. The Cicerones by Robert Aickman – ghost stories are such a peculiarly English phenomenon, but just to be perverse some of the best are set abroad. John Trant visits the Cathedral of St Bavon, in Belgium, only half an hour before it will shut for lunch. The guides, or cicerones, who show him the cathedral’s ominous masterpieces are children. Despite the impending deadline, they don’t seem in any hurry to see him leave. I like the way that this story builds up the drama gradually using the artifacts and pictures to give a vivid sense of impending dread and mystery.

 5. The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert – I’m going to include a full-length ghost story. Like a lot of James Herbert’s later works, it’s really quite long. It takes considerable skill to keep the tension of a ghost story going over a complete novel, and it’s not an accident that almost all ghost tales are either short stories or novellas. However, you’re in safe hands with James Herbert.

 6. The Haunted Dolls’ House by M R James – no list of favourite ghost stories is complete without one from the master of the subgenre. I’ve chosen this story, against some pretty stiff company, because I love the novelty of the haunted house being a child’s dolls’ house, rather than a whole family home itself featuring a ghost. It’s quite a postmodern story, in that the narrator is an observer of events from outside, which we in turn them see through his eyes. Of all the ghost stories I know, this one is probably the most original while at the same time being intensely traditional. M R James is such a genius for ghostly tales.

 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

John C Adams is a nonbinary author and critic of horror and fantasy fiction, reviewing for Horror Tree, British Fantasy Society, and Schlock! Webzine. They’ve had short fiction, reviews, and articles published in many anthologies from independent presses, on the HorrorAddicts.net blog site and in various magazines including the Horror Zine, Sirens Call Magazine, Lovecraftiana Magazine, Devolution Z Magazine, and Blood Moon Rising Magazine.

 They have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University and were longlisted for the Aeon Award twice. John’s latest horror novel ‘Blackacre Rising’ is available to preorder now on Amazon and Smashwords.

LINK TO WEBSITE: http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: 8 A South African Horror Story

Plotline: An old man, fated to collect souls for eternity, seeks atonement after trading his daughter’s soul.

Who would like it: Fans of magic, the occult international films with an unpredictable ending

High Points: The way this movie unfolds itself from multiple layers 

Complaints: Overused trope but it doesn’t take away from the movie

Overall: I really like this movie

Stars: 4 1/2 stars

Where I watched it: Review link

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Technological and Vehicular Terrors!

Technological Terrors and Vehicular Perils

by Kristin Battestella

Fasten your seat belts for these retro road rage terrors and ominous vintage vehicles.


The Car
 – Empty desert roads, dusty wakes, mountain tunnels, dangerous bends, and perilous bridges spell doom for run over bicyclists in this 1977 ride accented by Utah scenery, vehicular point of views, and demonic orange lighting. Regular rumbling motors, honking horns, and squealing tires are devilishly amplified as this cruiser uses everything at its disposal to tease its prey while up close grills and red headlights create personality. No one is safe from this Lincoln’s wrath! Rugged, oft shirtless single dad deputy James Brolin (The Amityville Horror) takes his daughters to school on a motorcycle, insisting they wear helmets because of course he can’t or it would hide that suave seventies coif and handlebar mustache. The hitchhiker musician hippie moments are dumb, however roadside folks don’t live long and witnesses aren’t helpful on plates, make, or model when people are getting run over on Main Street. What brought on this evil? Suggestions on the small town past with alcohol, domestic violence, and religious undercurrents go undeveloped alongside brief suspects, red herrings, and personal demons. Despite Native American slurs, it’s nice to see Navajo police officers and foreboding tribe superstitions as the phantom winds, cemetery safe havens, terrified horses, and school parades reveal there’s no driver in the car. Giant headsets, operators plugging in the phone lines, retro vehicles, and yellow seventies décor add to the sirens, decoys, roadblocks, radio chatter, and sparkling reflections from distant car mirrors as the real and fantastic merge thanks to this tricked out, mystically bulletproof, unnatural, and evil classic roaming about the rocky landscape. Although the editing between the unknown killer menace and asking why public fear is well filmed tense with foreground and background camera perspectives setting off turns around the bend or approaching headlights; some of the video is over cranked, ridiculously sped up action. It’s an inadvertently humorous high speed effect amid the otherwise ominous idling, slow pushes off high cliffs, and fiery crashes – our titular swanky flips but remains unscathed and it doesn’t even have door handles! Rather than embrace its horror potential or call the army and get some tanks or tractor trailers with passenger priests on this thing that no garage can contain, our police go it alone with a lot of dynamite for a hellish finale against the preposterous road rage. If you expect something serious you’ll surely be disappointed, but this can be an entertaining shout at the television good time. Besides, no matter how stinky, today you know we’d be on The Car: Part 12 with a different hunk per sequel battling the star Lincoln.

 

Killdozer!– Embarrassingly splendid outer space effects, red fireballs, and glowing blue rocks establish this 1974 science fiction horror television movie. Lovely sunsets, oceans, and island construction are here too for seriously deep voiced and strong chinned Clint Walker (Cheyenne) and the baby faced Spenser for Higher Robert Urich – who have some terribly wooden dialogue and tough scene chewing at hand. Our metallic humming meteorite whooshes its life force into the titular machinery, making the controls work by themselves amid fun point of view shots as the blade’s teeth inch closer to its target. Deathbed confessions are too fantastic to be believed when there’s work to be done, and the nasty foreman never takes off his hard hat even after the latent BFF gets really into the sensitive subtext over his fallen friend and tells nostalgic stories of how they swam alone together at night. Big K.D., meanwhile, destroys the radio – plowing over camp regardless of the caterpillar’s cut fuel line or some dynamite and fuel cans in its wake. But you could lose an eye on those huge ass walkie talkies with those dangerous antennas! Camera focuses on its little headlights a la eyes are also more humorous than menacing, and the puff puff choo choo out its smoke stack backtalk makes the supposedly evil facade more Little Engine that Could cute. Tight filming angles and fast editing belie the slow chases through the brush as everything is really happening at about ten miles an hour yet no one is able to outrun this thing, just crawl in front of it until crushed. Stereotypical Africa coastal comments, Irishman jokes, and a treated as inferior black worker always at the helm when something goes wrong also invoke a sense of white man imperialism getting what it deserves as they argue over on the job negligence and burying the bodies. Everybody’s testy, nobody shares information, and there’s an obligatory useless self sacrifice before the hard heads finally come together to destroy the indestructible with another rig, machino versus machino. Despite an occasionally menacing moment, this idiocy is more bemusing than fearful for an entertaining midnight movie laugh.

 

Night Drive – Valerie Harper (Rhoda and The Mary Tyler Moore Show) stars as a pursued murder witness in this 1977 television thriller – though I’m not sure about the Night Terror and Night Drive title switch a roo. The supporting cast is very after school special dry, yes. Everyone is a non-believing idiot or ass, and it’s tough to accept Harper as a fearful, neurotic, absent-minded, non-funny housewife. For an under 80 minute movie, the pacing is also slow to start with a lot of seemingly nothing happening – most of the scenes are silent and solitary, too. Fortunately, things get interesting when the highway horrors hit, and who can’t feel for a mom we love in peril? Sure, the filmmaking is a little dated or unintentionally comical – I think the station wagon has a lot to do with that! However, desolate roadways and abandoned curbside locales keep things atmospheric. Today we take for granted how easy it is to get from one place to another thanks to GPS, Bluetooth, cell phones, or cars that can dial 911 or tell us where to go.  As a result, some basic suspense sequences here have the viewer holding one’s breath or shouting at the television, and it all makes for an entertaining little show.


Road Games
 – Stacy Keach (Mike Hammer) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween) get right to the big rigs, radio chatter, hitchhikers, meat factories, seedy hotels, and nude strangulations in this 1981 Australian trek complete with rival green vans, dingoes in peril, and ominous coolers in the backseat. Classical music, harmonicas, idle word games, and poetry quotes pepper the boredom of the open road alongside mocking others on the highway – the packed station wagon, a nagging wife passenger, bratty kids in the backseat, and naughty newlyweds. Radio reports about a killer on the loose add to the shattered windows, jamming on the brakes, squealing tires, and suspicious shortcuts while our van man dumps unusual garbage and digs holes in the middle of the Outback. Interesting rearview mirror angles and well done rear projection make up for some of the talkativeness, for all speculation about our mystery driver has to be out loud because we have so few characters amid the cliff side hazards and chases through the brush. Does he have sex with his female victims before he kills them and chops them up? Is this just a bemusing puzzle to occupy the time or is the sleepless sleuthing and overactive imagination getting the best of our truck driver? Down Under road signs, truck stops, and country locales accent the arcade games, cigarette machines, and patchy phone calls to the clueless police as the engines rev up with dangerous high-speed chases, motorcycles, decoys, and abductions. Lightning strikes, rainbows, sunsets, headlights, and car alarms set off the tense zooms as the cops accuse our heart on his sleeve driver – and the suspicious banging in the back of his overweight haul. This isn’t full-on horror as some audiences may expect, but hanging pork and red lighting do a lot with very little. Perilous curves and speeding accidents bring the race right into the city streets with alley traps, crushing vehicles, and a tasty fun finish.


For More SF Horrors, Revisit:

Tales from the Darkside Season 3

Island of Doctor Moreau (1977)

Kong: Skull Island

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Sixteen: Something in the Woods

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

The Bigfoot movie Something in the Woods is a low-budget, independent film produced by GodZone Ministry and Saving Oscar Productions. The movie is available on Amazon Prime with a respectable rating of 3.5 stars out of 5.

Based on true events, the 2015 film chronicles a blue-collar family’s encounters with Bigfoot in the 1960s. Starring David D. Ford (who also directed with Tony Gibson), Something in the Woods is old-fashioned filmmaking with a deliberate pace and no-nonsense style. None of the characters are flashy, but they are relatable. Ford plays John Hartman, a God-fearing husband and father of two sons, who faces an unknown threat to his family.

something in the woods

Something in the Woods foregoes any hint of mystery near the beginning and totally embraces the Bigfoot plot. For much of its runtime, the movie focuses more on the family’s fears and reactions to the threat rather than the Bigfoot itself. Still, it is a creature feature and delivers all the typical Bigfoot signs: strange hair caught in a barbed-wire fence, nasty odors, vocalizations, missing farm animals, and the footprints.

The Bigfoot in the film looks like a classic Bigfoot, and its motivations are unclear. John’s motivations are clear. He’s concerned about Bigfoot hurting his family and resolves to hunt and kill it.

The scenes I enjoyed most in the film all involved Bigfoot and all of them escalated the eeriness and suspense. In one scene, John is looking for Bigfoot in the woods with his oldest son. When he realizes Bigfoot is stalking them, John tells his son to run home. Then, Bigfoot runs toward the boy. Intense.

My favorite scene involves the youngest son and an unseen Bigfoot outside his bedroom window. It illustrates the contrast between how the innocence of youth reacts to Bigfoot versus the more aggressive response of adults.

Something in the Woods adds an interesting twist during the climax but earns the moment with its consistent, practical storytelling. I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to Bigfoot enthusiasts interested in a story based on real encounters.

NEXT UP: Chapter Seventeen: Bigfoot Trail. I review the 2019 novel by Eric S. Brown.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, including The Best of Iron Faerie Publishing 2019; America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Deep South; and Alabama’s Emerging Writers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition, All Hallows’ Prose. Drop by https://lionelraygreen.com/ and say hello.


MORE BIGFOOT MOVIE REVIEWS …

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Nine: Stomping Ground

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eight: Abominable

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Seven: Willow Creek

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Six: Big Legend

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Lurker

 

Plotline: A group of theater students, celebrating their final show, begin to slowly disappear one at a time.

Who would like it: Fans of slashers and teen screams 

High Points: The plot twist

Complaints: None

Overall: I liked it, it was a fun movie to watch

Stars: 4 1/2

Where I watched it: Screener link

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Book Review: Arterial Bloom edited by Mercedes M. Yardley

Book Review: Arterial Bloom edited by Mercedes M. Yardley
Reviewed by Daphne Strasert

Unthemed anthologies are always a bit of a gamble for the reader. Without a common thread tying the stories together, you can’t be sure that each story will hold your attention the same way. Arterial Bloom, edited by Mercedes M. Yardley and published by Crystal Lake, may be unthemed, but there is still a common core to the stories: quality. The writing in each and every story is lush and literary. The story themes vary from whimsical to harsh realism, but they are each gripping in their own way.

The Stone Door by Jimmy Bernard

This story about three sisters trying to live their lives in the place of an ever-present threat is tense and dark. Bernard uses the terror of the unknown to great effect. The story is better for being underexplained. It’s plenty terrifying as it is. A sense of hopelessness creeps in between the words as the sisters’ fight to survive keeps them from truly living.

Dog (Does Not) Eat Dog by Grant Longstaff

Longstaff uses his story to take a harsh look at interpersonal relationships during the apocalypse. What does it take to survive? Do you really want to survive if it means losing humanity? His exploration of what hardship and hopelessness may bring out in some people is frightening in its realism.

Kudzu Stories by Linda J. Marshall

Marshall turns a short story even shorter, weaving together a series of stories set in the same small town. With the backdrop of the Mississipi river, Kudzu Stories has a distinctly southern feel. Her writing conjures up hot, humid nights and crickets in the dark, with a dash of something more sinister waiting in the dense kudzu. Truly one of my favorites in this anthology.

Dead Letters by Christopher Barzak

With Dead Letters, Barzak creates a unique and heartfelt story about grief and love. I can’t give much detail without spoiler several marvelous twists, but rest assured, it’s a deeply moving and personal story that explores emotions I didn’t even know I had.

The Darker Side of Grief by Naching T Kassa

Kassa is one of my favorite authors to see in any anthology. The Darker Side of Grief is my favorite work from her so far. It’s a dark tale of a boy haunted by the death of his mother that explores the magnitude of childhood bravery. It’s traditionally scary in a way that few other stories in the anthology are.

Welcome to Autumn by Daniel Crow

Crow’s story of a missing artist and the forces working against him is twisty and trippy. His concept is fascinating and something I would love to learn more about. More than that, the small setting he uses allows him to tell the story through characters in a unique and layered way.

Still Life by Kelli Owen

Still Life is a painting made with words. The vivid imagery is nothing like I’ve ever read before. The story itself winds slowly into you with hints of terror that lurk on the sidelines. It’s a beautiful slow burn with a shocking ending.

Three Masks by Armand Rosamilia

Rosamilia tells several stories at once in Three Masks, showcasing the way two people may come to share their lives in infinite ways. Even with parallels running between each possible storyline, he manages to capitalize on shock value. You’re never sure of what will happen. It’s a literary piece that pushes the boundaries of traditional story telling.

Doodlebug by John Boden

Doodlebug tells the story of an arsonist. It’s a slow burn (ha) with a slithering sense of dread as you wait for what horror will happen next. Boden dives into the psyche of the main character, turning her psychology into the true star of the show. It’s a deeply creepy story not for any overt terror, but for the exploration that there could be any sort of monster hiding behind the façade of a human being.

Happy Pills by Todd Keisling

I loved Happy Pills. Keisling’s story presents a man who will try anything if it will ease the absence of feeling inside him. The description of anxiety and depression is hauntingly visceral and so accurate that it hit home for me in a powerful way. The writing is excellent, with vivid descriptions that match the Lovecraftian tone of the piece.

What Remained of Her by Jennifer Loring

What Remained of Her follows a woman’s desperate search for answers in the disappearance of her sister. The build and suspense in this story is great. The ending is nothing like you would suspect. Loring manages to create a gripping mystery worthy of a novel in a short story format.

Blue Was Her Favorite Color by Dino Parenti

Blue was Her Favorite Color honestly made me shudder as I read it. The story follows a father as he watches the grieving process of his young daughter. Parenti took his time in laying the groundwork for a truly horrifying and unexpected reveal. The creeping horror of this tale will be with me for a long time to come.

In the Loop by Ken Liu

Liu’s story is a masterpiece of technological horror. In the Loop tells the story of a woman who programs machines of war. While it could technically be considered science fiction, the truth of his story matter is much closer to the reality of today. In the Loop isn’t traditional horror, relying instead of the horror found in ethical decisions made every day.

The Making of Mary by Steven Pirie

In The Making of Mary, Pirie turns the language of science into a love letter. This story of Gaia guised in mortal flesh is more of a romance than a horror story, but it’s filled with such beautiful imagery and heartfelt characters, that it belongs alongside the rest of the writing in this anthology.

Mouths Filled with Seawater by Jonathan Cosgrove

Mouths Filled with Seawater is a complicated story woven through the mind of unreliable narrator. It’s hard to know exactly what is going on, but the confusion just adds to the concern of just what the narrator is capable of doing. Cosgrove storytelling is unique and perfectly suited to the tortured tale he presented.

Rotten by Carina Bissett

Rotten is a horror tale in a glossy fairy-tale wrapping. The story of a girl coming of age under her mother’s withering guidance is dark and painful. Bissett’s characters are sinister in the best way imaginable. They come to life under the sharp and vivid language. The series of snippets in the character’s life are each the perfect bite.

I was impressed with Arterial Bloom. Each author brought their absolute best to the table and the editor pulled together a collection of wildly different stories into a coherent piece. I recommend it whole-heartedly to fans of both horror and literature.

Looking for more anthologies? Try Tales from the Lake: Volume 5, Monsters of Any Kind, or Lost Highways.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Witches and Demons!

Witches and Demons, Oh My!

By Kristin Battestella

It’s always the right time to beware of witches, spirit boards, divinations, and demons!

The Covington Witches – These two 2019 episodes combine for over an hour and a half of funerals, candles, rituals, witches, and tarot in an African American infused Philadelphia ripe for a horror tale. Clearly, this is a shoestring production with a forgivable low budget, uneven sound, okay lighting, and some amateur performances. However, the extremely tight camerawork not just cuts the proverbial corners but crops out half the picture – heads are cut off and viewers are left looking at a wall while people talk outside the frame. Unnecessary editing and location notations for every scene contribute to the cluttered feeling, and the barren design somehow feels crowded, interfering with the naturalistic conversations about wrangling in reluctant family members with magic warnings. Ominous music adds to the natural banter – which is nice when we can see both people in the uninterrupted frame properly as more relatives end up dead thanks to mysterious boxes, tea readings, and suspect fires. Mourners dressed in black, cemetery scenes, and wide outdoor shots create much-needed scene-setting breathers alongside intriguing homemade voodoo dolls, teaching spells, incense, and goddess prayers. Purification charms and chants escalate as nieces ask if they are dark witches or do magic for light but aren’t afraid either way. The ladies are getting nasty with the evil spells, so why can’t the elder family just tell the ones who don’t know about all the witchcraft? Real estate runarounds and binding spells end up going too far with some penis removal magic, and that’s certainly more interesting than going to this house, then visiting that house, asking for coffee, and then leaving before the beverage is made. Why certain children don’t know they are witches and why one distant niece comes into wealth and property isn’t fully explained, and the pace is slow with redundant, roundabout scenes creating confusion. Are we missing an important piece of the puzzle or just left to wonder if a cryptic scene serves any purpose? Phone calls with nothing but “What does it all mean?” and “I don’t know” waste time before men who don’t know what they’re in for meet an abrupt end and leave us wanting the rest of the story. This is based on a self-published book series, and there isn’t a lot of information about whether this show is intended as an in house web series, one supersized book trailer, or a pilot to shop for something bigger – which it had the potential to be.

Wishmaster – I Dream of Jeannie spoiled us on the nature of granting wishes, and a malevolent, puckish Djinn runs amok in this 1997 Wes Craven produced dark fantasy starring Andrew Divoff (Air Force One) and Freddy Krueger Robert England with a cameo from Candyman Tony Todd. Opening scrolls telling of unholy potential immediately set a fiery mood alongside an 1127 Persia apothecary, potions, cauldrons, mystical gems, and alchemy. Present-day rock outs, tennis yuppies, and smarmy auctioneers are dated, yet there’s a frightfully fantastic mixing with modern industrial thanks to maze-like museums, living statues, and slimy cadavers. Some hokey effects also feel too eighties, but payphones and answering machines that say Pacific Bell and Bell South, whoa! Skeletons and more effective gore accent the too good to be true, “All you have to do is ask” tricks, leaving the regretful and maimed in our djinn’s wake. He’s not lying in saying he only bargains with what people give him – reminding viewers to speak carefully when wishing someone was dead or offering to sell one’s soul for a cigarette. Such suspense is fine on its own without circling zooms and crescendos, for we want to see the antagonist’s personality, interconnected visions, and growing powers. Ironically, we like Tammy Lauren (Homefront) less, but she isn’t stupid or made a bimbo while investigating the Zoroastrian myths. Although the escalating creepy crawlies are fun, the plot descends into set chases, explosions, and ineffective shootouts with some deus ex machina in outwitting the djinn. The ancient prologue, first act release, and collecting of restoring skingraphs or eyeballs are also similar to Dracula 2000 and The Mummy – evil flirts, shops, preys, leaving boils along the way. This girl power action horror pace feels like a precursor to more recent spectacles, and while we chuckle at the un-scary B movie fun, it’s pleasing to see the non-Western horror of this demented little cautionary tale.

 

Witchboard – A Ouija board and one bad yuppie party leads to the release of a malevolent spirit in this 1987 scarefest. Granted, it doesn’t say much when Tawny Kitaen (The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of Yik-Yak) does the best acting here as both her rival male suitors are lame and full of their own bromance, manpain, and perhaps a whiff of latent innuendo. There’s unintentional comedy, too, with heaps of eighties fun including wild hair, punk styles, one earring, and waterbeds. I mean, you don’t see rainbow colored mohawks every day! Old technology such as microfilm, payphones, and cool Cobra cars are pleasing as well despite a lingering hokey, dated Valley lingo, laughably bad special effects, and contrived leaps to advance the plot. Fortunately, eerie hospitals, cemeteries, and foggy dreams add atmosphere while askew wide lenses and overhead whooshes provide a poltergeist perspective. Creepy Ouija movements, solo reading sessions, and freaky séances build suspense alongside pregnancy twists, zany psychics, and violent ghostly attacks. Who knew just spelling out with the planchette was so intense! Lovely architecture and retro styles feel eighties does forties, and there’s a reason for this throwback tone. The spirits also remain mostly unseen – except when the evil is ax happy that is. Because ghosts can wield axes, FYI. There is brief nudity and language, but this simple story does a lot without resorting to bimbo extremes or cheap fouls. Dockside mishaps and shower perils top of a goofy but fitting finale, and though of its time, this remains fun and entertaining.

Skip It

Salem – 1685 stocks, brandings, church bells, and cries for mercy open this 2014 thirteen-episode debut before pregnancies, torches, forest rituals, hooting owls, and promises of power. By 1692 Salem is swept with witch fever as bodies hang and rhetoric warns the devil is in town. Screaming girls are tied down over claims that a hag is terrorizing them – and there is indeed an unseen succubus leaping upon the helpless. Preachers insist they must save their promised land from this insidious invisible hell as sermons and town hall meetings become one and the same. Suspect midwives, old witnesses, and secrets intensify the witch hunt debates as families recall the original English hysteria and proud witchfinder ancestry. Although arguments about a girl not being possessed just touched in the head and in need of a doctor seem recent, it’s nice to see the reverse of typical exorcism stories where confounded doctors come before prayer interventions. Chants, contortions, and taxidermy lead to full moon dancing rituals, animal head masks, fiery circles, baby skull offerings, sacrifices, effigies, and entrails. Unfortunately, nobody notices witches talking openly in the town square nor minds a woman taking charge when she has no rights but through her husband. Ladies speaking out over their exploitation is far too contemporary – along with out of place comeback quips and jarring modern sarcasm. Instead of real tribe names, talk of savages and conflated French and Indian War references pepper speeches about saving the country when we weren’t even one yet. Killing innocents goals and grand rites achievements are reduced to the coven wanting to get rid of the Puritans so Salem can be theirs even though they are already in power behind the scenes and getting on their forest sabbaths. The witches versus ministry conflict with some pretending to be the other is drama enough without Shane West’s (Dracula 2000) millennial grandstanding compromising Janet Montgomery’s (Merlin) Mary Sibley. Is this about the falsely accused, misunderstood, and lovelorn or the naked, ethereal witches taking the devil’s power for their spellbound husbands and familiar frogs? Revealing the supernatural at work creates an uneven back and forth that goes directly against the witches’ motivations. Stay in their point of view or play it straight on the devil or innocent and let the audience decide which side we’re on – attempting both evil and romance is far too busy and binds in name only historical figures and potentially juicy characters with weak, pedestrian male trappings. Hypocrite ministers terrorize the congregation when not cowering at torturing witches or having sex at the Puritan brothel like this is Game of Thrones. After bamboozling EnterpriseI was already leery of creator Brannon Braga, and an old hat, run of the mill tone hampers the writing team. In addition to rotating directors, there are only a few women behind the scenes, and weird Marilyn Manson music provides a trying to be hip that’s more CW than BBC. Wealthy lace and tavern drab visually divide our neighbors amid period woodwork, forges, and rustic chimneys while gothic arches and heavy beams add colonial mood. Churches and cemeteries contrast dark woods, glimpses of horned and hoofed figures, skeleton keys, and spooky lanterns however the blue gradient is too obviously modern. Pretty windows and latticework are too polished, and clean streets give away the Louisiana set town rather than on location imbued. Superficial costuming is noticeably inaccurate, and once I saw a Victorian filigree necklace I got at Hot Topic, well, that was pretty much it for this show.

For More Witchy, Revisit:

Witches and Bayous

Witches of East End 

Teen Witch

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Justin Symbol/ Candyman

 

Party songs for the end of the world?

Greetings and Salutations, Horror Addicts. When last we visited, the world was headed into a shelter-in-place that has lasted longer than many folks anticipated. While it’s been a mixed bag of despair and uncertainty, there have been glimmers of hope that I’ve been hanging on to, and of course, music has been there in new and exciting ways to ease my soul. I’ve found tunes for every mood and put together a few playlists that I’ll share some of on my next edition of Ro’s Recs. But this month I had a listen to Justin Symbol’s latest work and I gotta say, it’s pretty damn reflective of our current state of affairs. 

Justin Symbol’s opening track to the new album Candyman, “End Times,” sets listeners into an anarchist’s vibe for the end of the world, which might seem fitting to some right now. Often sounding like a Marilyn Manson of old, Symbol has girls “shaking their tits” in celebration of the apocalypse, and you know what? Why not? What are we supposed to do when it seems as though the sky is falling? Candyman contains some juvenile lyrics that are sprinkled with wit and overlaying horror-inspired effects and beats that sometimes miss their mark. At times the album feels like a promising industrial album with songs like “Prophets of Nothing” and “Lust.” These particular tunes feature engaging guitar tracks and lyrics that come close to being a snarky riff on life. ”Mothra” creates strong imagery with lyrics such as  “blackout the sky,” “sorting out the bodies” and “curl up inside a cocoon of flies,” but as the album continues, Symbol delves into extremely graphic sexual content that some may find offensive. If that’s your kink, you may feel right at home. Symbol straddles the line of rap and rock with interesting verse, intriguing riffs, and creepy atmospheric sounds. “The Devil You Know” was a standout for me. Give the album a listen and see if it’s your jam. You can find Justin Symbol on Spotify and Apple Music. 

That’s it for Merrill’s Musings this month. Be sure to check out my next Ro’s Recs, where I will share with you the best songs for surviving the shelter-in-place. Take care, be safe, and Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musings…

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Buy One Get One Free: Zombies!

 

Blood Quantum

Plotline: The Dead are Coming Back to Life Except for the Native Peoples Who are Immune. The Tribal Sheriff Must Protect His People from Hordes of Walking White Corpses.

Who would like it: Zombie fans, gore hounds, enjoys movies with the social commentary and movies that make you think. 

High Points: The originality 

Complaints: None!

Overall: I loved it and I think you will too

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Shudder

Betaal 

Plotline: Hired to displace tribal villagers to make way for a new highway, officials unearth an old curse and an army of British …

Who would like it: Zombie fans, fans of military action flicks, and movies with the social commentary and movies that make you think, foreign films. 

High Points: The evolution of the zombies 

Complaints: None

Overall: This really surprised me, it was really easy to binge watch 

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Netflix 

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Perilous Weather!

Perilous Weather and Viewing! By Kristin Battestella

Lighting, mountains, bears, and storms – some of these horror movies are just as dangerous as the dark skies onscreen!

A Lonely Place to Die – Beautiful but perilous vistas, thunder, and misty but dangerous mountains – a risky place to whip out the camera! – open this 2011 hikers meet kidnappers parable starring Melissa George (Triangle), Alec Newman (Dune), and Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey). Eagles and aerial views quickly degrade into mistakes, hanging frights, and upside down frames. Ropes, gear, risk – people cause disaster among the otherwise still, respected beauty where they aren’t supposed to be resulting in cuts, scrapes, and falls. Weather interferes with their plans to climb the next killer facade but wishing one could paint the lovely forest and rocky scenery uncovers mysterious echoes from an ominous pipe and a trapped little girl. The hikers split up – several take the longer, safer route back to the nearby town – however there’s a more difficult path called Devil’s Drop that one couple brave climbing to reach help faster. Unfortunately, short ropes and sabotaged equipment create shocking drops and fatal cliffs. They aren’t wearing helmets so we can see the heroics, but no gloves against the sharp rocks, rough trees, and burning ropes, well that’s as dumb as not having a satellite phone. Unnecessary fake out dreams, annoying shaky cams, and distorted points of view detract from both the natural scary and the mystery of who else may be out there – fear on people’s faces is always more powerful than effects created for the audience. Guys with guns encountering more crazed men all in black with yet more kidnappers in pursuit also break the isolated situation too early. Unknowns snipers would better layer the environmental fears, raging river perils, terrain chases, and gunshots. Attacks from an unseen culprit are much more terrifying than knowing what poor shots they are even up close and with scopes. Injuries, screams, thuds, and broken limbs provide real menace, and we really shouldn’t have met the killers until they are over the victims asking them how much the price of their nobility hurts or what good compassion did for them today. Although double-crossing criminals playing the mysteries too soon compromises the good scares and surprise fatalities, fiery sunset festivals progress the mountain isolation to a ritual village suspicious. Fireworks and parades mingle with hog masks and alley chases – again suggesting people are where they shouldn’t be as the hiking dangers become congested public confrontations. While the crooks’ conspiracies get a tad ridiculous when innocent bystanders are killed in plain sight, this is a unique natural horrors cum kidnapping thriller remaining tense and entertaining despite some of those shout at the TV flaws.

You Make the Call, Addicts!

Dead of Winter – Lovely snow-tipped trees, mountains, and chilly rivers begat hiking perils, rock tumbles, ropes cut, snowy crashes, and hungry wolves in this 2014 Canadian geocaching terror. Of course, there are bus driving montages, DUI histories, annoying music, getting gas in middle of nowhere clichés, and ridiculously hammy dialogue like “Is your cock ever soft?” “Only in your mommy!” WTF. One jerk films everybody in a camcorder point of view even as they clearly all have chips on their shoulders, but the sardonic documentation is forgotten as we quickly meet the cliché, overly excited nerds, angry lesbians, and the dude bros who want to watch amid nighttime scenery, windshield wipers, and the increasingly icy road. Although people are bundled up for this snowy treasure hunt, their faces are still Hollywood exposed as the teams run to and fro in the woods following creepy clues in a kind of humorous montage before no phone signals, a bus that won’t start, garroting logger cables, and explosions. If they’re stranded two hundred miles and at least four days walk from anywhere, why doesn’t anyone stay near the fiery bus for heat and signal fires? Everyone continues following the increasingly bizarre geocache reveals such as a gun with no bullets and a stopwatch promising screams in ninety seconds despite falling snow showers, waterfalls, and damaged bridges. One dumb ass know it all thinks a creaking old wood bridge with over a foot of snow on top the buckling boards is safe so they all go for it because he says there’s a quarry shortcut and a convenient cabin nearby, too. Somebody has to take a dump in the snow, it’s obvious who’s going to die next – cough one lesbian and the black guy cough – and the hip acting hampers the finger-pointing group divisions. Thanks to the straightforward rather than herky-jerky filming, we can see the bloody hangings, torn limbs, and splatter gore, but arrows and crossfire reveal the killer far too soon when a movie about a treasure hunt shouldn’t give up its reward until the end. Head scratching cutaways, airplane rescue fake-outs, and whining about missing pizza further break audience immersion as no one complains about blisters, cold, or frostbite on their gloveless hands. No one is tired – least of all the driver who drove all night and then drank all day who says he’ll stay up on watch while the others sleep. They didn’t follow the river but are later glad to have handy flashlights and booze to drink as they joke about eating the tubby jerk first rather than addressing any real cannibalism horror. Jealously, one person that is not so mysteriously absent, a knife plus a pen and suddenly anybody can do an instant tracheotomy – it takes an hour for someone to realize this was planned revenge thanks to some prior competition because geocaching is a mad competitive and dangerous sport! The riddles and underground hideouts run out of steam with sagging contrivances and overlong, predictable explanations. This is watchable with entertaining horror moments, however the cliché points and outlandish but wait there’s more on and on will become too laughable for some. Our survivors may have beaten the horror hunt, but everyone apparently forgets they’re still stranded in the wilderness before the fade to black. Oops.

One to Skip

Backcountry – From packing in the parking garage and highway traffic jams to embarrassing sing a longs and a Cosmo quiz for relationship backstory, this 2014 Canadian survival thriller from writer and director Adam MacDonald (Pyewacket) has plenty of cliches for this city couple in the woods. Sunlit smiles, peaceful canoe pretty, and happy hiking montages can’t belie the ominous when the audience enters in with full knowledge of the impending horror. At the country rest stop, a ranger warns them of bad weather and closed, out of season trails, however our big man insists he doesn’t need medical kits or a map. He ignores minor injuries, mocks his inexperienced girlfriend’s preparations, leaves his ax behind, and lights a fire before leaving it to go skinny dipping. Not only do these actions completely contradict everything Survivorman taught us, but these people also don’t know they are in a scary movie. A sudden stranger at their campsite creates obvious jealousy and inferiority complexes but weird accents, racist questions, contrived dialogue, and stereotypical characterizations interfere with the attempted tension. Fortunately, askew angles on the trail, going off the path doubts, isolated nature sounds, and lookalike trees invoke better suspense as the camera blurs and pans with confusion or pain thanks to disgusting toenail gore. Up close views inside the cramped, not so safe tent build fear alongside snapping branches and bear footprints, but of course this guy doesn’t believe the supposedly overreacting woman who wants to go home when she hears something amiss. No dumbass, it isn’t acorns falling on the outside of the tent, and you should have never taken her phone and left it in the car! It takes a half hour for the innate wilderness horrors to get going, but the suspense is continually interrupted by the obnoxious behavior – wasting water, blaming her for their situation when it is clearly his fault, and her apologizing after confessing he is a loser just trying to impress her. Why couldn’t they have gone on an easier hike when she never wanted to go in the first place? Proposal excuses aren’t enough when you continually ignore dead carcasses nearby and claim it was just a raccoon that ate your food. Drinking the mini champagne bottles is not going to help their situation! Despite well-done heartbeats, ringing in the ears, and tumbling down the ravine camera views, there’s simply not enough character development and story here to sustain the wait for the superbly bloody, frenetic bear attacks in the finale. Gore, scares, screams, growls, and maulings fall prey to a just missed ’em helicopter rescue opportunity as our final girl inexplicably becomes an expert runner, rock climber, and field medic before pretty deer and dumb luck save the day. Is this uplifting music and girl power ending just a dream of what she wishes happens because otherwise, it is ridiculously unlikely. Where Pyewacket expressly defies the horror tropes checklist, this does nothing but adhere to it – becoming only worth watching if you want to yell at the people or fast forward to see them get what they deserve. ¯\_()_/¯ The bear isn’t the villain, human superiority is!

Camp Country

Stormswept – Grand columns, bayou scenery, candles, thunder, ghostly gusts, and possessions start this almost seventies feeling 1995 romp starring Kathleen Kinmont (Renegade) amid realtors avoiding a house of horrors disclosure and muddy accidents. The chandeliers and staircase grandeur can also be seen in North and Southbut there are spiders, covered furniture, and flashes of past boobs, blood, and some kind of skeleton dildo thingie. Saucy paintings abound, naughty books contain graphic ejaculation or cunnilingus art, and red four-poster beds await. This is obviously low budget Skinemax style – so despite the eerie atmosphere, some scary filming, ominous silhouettes in rain slickers, and frightful reflections in the window, one can’t tell if everyone is going to die or have sex, probably both. Four women and two men are Marilyn Chambers numbers! It takes too long for the crew to get stranded at the plantation, but the film within a film chases feature girls in white shirts and no bras while playing into girl on girl fantasies with let’s get off your wet clothes talk and accidental towel drops. I laughed out loud at that, I really did! Although the dated midriffs, acid wash jeans, giant old portable phone, and faxed paperwork are bemusing, most of the sexual dialogue is uncomfortable. The men say once a guy has sex with another man he’s a homosexual but it’s okay for the women to experiment for them as it doesn’t make them lesbians. Truth or dare demands the women kiss, word association games start with “pink” – it’s disturbing the way actor turned luxury rehab guru Justin Carroll’s director character has these women trapped, doing what he wants and not caring if anyone is upset by the sex chats. Whooshing storm effects live up to title and there’s a torture history binding everyone to the house, but not much sense is made of this evil spirit driving one and all to sex and kill. The overlong wet dream confessions and lez be friends scenes embrace the step above soft core rather than exceed that lower rung with the horror. I almost wish this could be redone to be more quality. Hidden people in the basement, secret diaries, murders – but our actress has never had an orgasm and it’s more important for the manipulative director to hypnotize her into touching herself in front of everyone like Showgirls thrashing in the pool. She recalls painful abuse and incest memories, but he tells her she need not be guilty over masturbating with her brother and can go ahead and have her ultimate sexual fantasy about Alex Trebek. O_o o_O I thought this was supposed to be a horror movie! While terribly laughable and base level entertaining, I just… insert Nathan Fillion confused gif here. Is there even a saucy ghost or is this what happens when you lock messy horny people in the house on a stormy night?

Revisit More Dangerous Weather Viewing:

Water Perils

Witches and Bayous

Forest Frights

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Fifteen: Night of the Sasquatch

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Night of the Sasquatch by Keith Luethke is a horror story about a family’s encounter with a clan of Bigfoot. The interesting wrinkle in this entry into cryptid fiction is Luethke tells the story from the points of view of the family and the Bigfoot.

night of the sasquatch cover.jpg

Night of the Sasquatch begins as the typical cabin-in-the-woods trope with newly married couple Wein and Stacy traveling to a mountain cabin for a honeymoon weekend with their five-month-old daughter Valery. During a grocery stop on the way, a stranger appears just long enough to warn Stacy to “stay out of the woods.”

The story soon shifts to the clan of Bigfoot alarmed by the arrival of humans. Living in a nearby cave, the Bigfoot characters have names and distinct personalities, and the males are engaged in a power struggle for leadership of the clan.

Members of the Bigfoot clan watch the human family in the cabin and try to warn them off with rocks. Their action prompts a call to police and a detective’s decision to watch the cabin for the remainder of the night.

The Bigfoot clan members argue over what to do about the humans. Should they leave or attack? Their decision fuels the action-packed climax, ending with acts of self-preservation and humanity in the pulse-pounding finale.

Night of the Sasquatch is an entertaining break for Bigfoot fans and takes less than an hour to read.

NEXT UP: Chapter Sixteen: Something in the Woods. I review the 2015 film directed by Tony Gibson and David D. Ford.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, including The Best of Iron Faerie Publishing 2019; America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Deep South; and Alabama’s Emerging Writers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition, All Hallows’ Prose. Drop by https://lionelraygreen.com/ and say hello.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Bone Box

Plotline: In hopes of raising enough money to pay off his gambling debts Tom decides to rob the dead.

Who would like it: Fans of ghost stories and hauntings

High Points

Complaints: My complaint isn’t with the movie per se but with the decision of the main character to solve his problem  

Overall: It was good

Stars: 3

Where I watched it: Review link provided by Film 

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Dead Man’s Gun / Season 1

Dead Man’s Gun Debut is Uneven but Weirdly Promising

by Kristin Battestella

Produced by Henry Winkler and narrated by Kris Kristofferson, Showtime’s 1997-98 western anthology series Dead Man’s Gun debuts with twenty-two episodes of somewhat rocky but no less entertaining weird and vengeful parables.

Originally, the first three episodes of Dead Man’s Gun were shown in a television movie block opening with John Ritter (Three’s Company) as an ambitious sideshow assistant in “The Great McDonacle.” He’s tired of trick shooting and buys the titular gun despite warnings that the devil himself made it such bad luck. The poor Shakespeare shows and bad saloon singing are slow to start, however, the six shooting spectacles, bullets caught between the teeth, and obvious kiss before the shot add to this business of illusions. He’s not a real marksman, so why does he need a real gun? Playing against the odds with one more shot, unfortunately, proves costly amid well-done character interplay, shootouts, and Billy the Kid references. Seemingly slick thief John Glover (Smallville) steals money, documents, and our gun in “Fool’s Gold” before selling a $200 claim to local rube Matt Frewer (Orphan Black) and making moves on saloon girl Laurie Holden (Silent Hill). Bankers, mining equipment deals, bets on recouping the cost of this speculation, and contracts with survivor claims lead to some hefty interest policies, double-crosses, and blackmail. Fortunately, this gun comes in handy for eliminating all those little technicalities. Producer cum down on his luck peddler Henry Winkler (Happy Days), however, takes a dead man’s identity as well as his gun and employment papers to become the next town marshal in “The Impostor.” He’s thrust into a standoff and inadvertently saves the day – earning free meals, service, and respect as he settles local disputes and finds romance. Our town hero begins believing he can stop bank robbers and help others, but we know such innocence doesn’t last long on Dead Man’s Gun. This first episode of the series proper is a much better start to the series than the spliced feature, and dreaded undertaker Larry Drake (Dr. Giggles) pilfers jewels, boots, and clothes off the dead in “Buryin’ Sam.” He reuses the linens and rusty nails in the caskets but charges the bereaved $12 for all the trimmings. Shootouts from our gun are good business when not pursuing widows – after all, it’s really about comforting the living. Interfering heart conditions and indirect fatalities, unfortunately, lead to murder, lightning, and supernatural betrayals as empty graves and night time burials invoke fine horror elements. Nightcaps, syringes, and killer sex for “The Black Widow” leave the titular Daphne Zuniga (Melrose Place) with will readings, black veils, and our inherited gun before she sets about ensnaring a local jeweler. Hot air balloons and romantic picnics quickly lead to the marital grand manor complete with a pesky old maid, locked attic, and treacherous stairs. Gems, fortunes, and memento mori accent the suspicions alongside poison mushrooms, nitroglycerin, well-done suspense, and deadly interplay.

A birth in the brothel and the Dead Man’s Gun is offered as doctor William Katt’s (House) payment in “The Healer.” He insists on helping a dying gunslinger after a standoff in the saloon, and the townsfolk quickly turn into a trigger happy mob. They want him to look the other way while they ‘take care’ of a feverish patient who will hang anyway, and past rows reveal they never really were that neighborly. The doctor’s missus has some history, too, and it all comes out thanks to a dreamy romp in the hay. Though rough around the edges, the vengeance, responsibility, and consequences here make for an interesting gray. Of course, racism abounds with buck, squaw, and redskin talk in “Medicine Man” as Adam Beach (Windtalkers) receives a bottle of whiskey instead of real payment for his work. His father Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves) dislikes his cold gun with an evil spirit and wishes his son would return to the chants, drums, and teepees – but these are a proud people made low, warriors with nothing left to hunt. The Nez Perce language is minimal and some of the Native American motifs are stereotypical, however, this parable is told from the proper point of view and the audience understands the anger and rage. Dreams and spiritual wisdom add a slightly supernatural touch, but the gun only makes it easier to pursue ruthlessness, and revenge only begets more revenge. In “Next Of Kin,” Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) invites Helen Shaver (Supergirl) and the rest of the snotty, presumptuous family to finalize his will. Can they stay the weekend enjoying his gourmet food and luxuries to prove themselves worthy of his legacy or will they bicker and toy with his priceless loaded gun? Despite blaming, blows, and supposed self-inflicted gunshots in the night, no one’s willing to leave and lose their fortune. The accursed gun is tossed into the fire, where it doesn’t get hot or burn, but its E&S initials – Latin for ‘ruin and destroy’ – glow. Certainly, there are similar mysteries and horror tales, but the period dynamics and stir crazy of our looming heirloom make for one of the season’s best – a superb little potboiler with kinky relations, past bitterness, and bodies in the hall. Blacksmith Meat Loaf (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), however, is displeased when his new wife arrives with a son for “Mail Order Bride.” On top of this awkward situation, he recognizes our gun that keeps coming back to haunt him. The tender father-son bonding is somewhat try hard, too on the nose with its lessons, but Meat Loaf’s fine performance raises the uneven drama and keeps things intriguing as the gun falls into the wrong hands.

Fire eaters and carnival atmosphere accent “The Fortune Teller” when charlatan Elizabeth Peña (La Bamba) really beings to see the future in her crystal ball after coming into the Dead Man’s Gun. The town is at odds over believing the tea leaves and tarot cards or ignoring the hocus pocus, but the price to hear of one’s adultery, murder, or vengeful fortunes goes up from fifteen cents to a dollar! Eerie images and a unique hedge maze finale converge as the gun brings the visions to a sharp point. He cures sleeplessness with stimulation through the power of the mind in “The Mesmerizer,” but this doctor is really using hypnosis to assault the lady patients and steal from the gents. Stealing our gun, however, makes the power of suggestion stronger – enchanting people in the streets, using old ladies to rob a bank, and invoking new death bed will signatures. Though similar to Poe’s The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, we want the nastiness to get its due, and Dead Man’s Gun provides it with deathly vengeance and full-on horror in the just desserts. By contrast, the sepia stills and vintage equipment of “The Photographer” seem so quaint until Gary Cole (Veep) takes a photo of our jinxed gun in action. He has no qualms about snapping pictures of the departed, and townsfolk are shocked when he captures a bank robbery – unlike today where smartphones galore make everything an Instagram story. Is he a vulture seeking disturbing images or a chronicler capturing fatal action as it happens? After selling his graphic photos to the local gazette, national papers write that they will pay top dollar for more scenes of a violent nature. After all, folks who can’t read buy the paper for the scandalous pictures! As he snaps more shootouts and convinces dangerous outlaws to pose before his camera, our photographer traces the gun as it changes hands five times, and it would have been interesting to have had this period premise that’s still relevant today featured regularly throughout the season. Despite a strong mid-season, Dead Man’s Gun is quite uneven in its first half with an often embarrassingly wooden secondary cast and continuity issues despite the anthology format. Instead of completely tracing the gun’s travels from one episode to the next, our inanimate anchor is picked up at the end of one hour with our never knowing what happens next. Likewise, openings that had more to tell dump the piece onto the next victim as Dead Man’s Gun further misses the opportunity to have Kristofferson (Blade) appear as a sage in pursuit. After a few clunky episodes, my husband wrote off the series as being too “random” in its gun portrayal. Fire and brimstone Tim Matheson (The West Wing) is putting on the healing under the revival tent in the penultimate “Wages Of Sin” with plants in the crowd and holy elixir shams. He charms the ladies and convinces a violent brother to give up his tool of evil. From fevers to blindness and broken wings, our reverend begins to believe in the miraculous nature of our gun. He wants to build a permanent temple thanks to wealthy neighbors and tempting blondes, but some pay for seeing through the con and double-crosses as the gun giveth and taketh.

Although the narration calls the weapon legendary, it’s sentient or evil nature is not fully explored – it’s not infamous and is passed on quite innocuously at times. Some own it decades despite its misfortune while others are done with it in a few days. Beyond a general Old West, towns and locations are never mentioned, and while all these bads probably don’t take place in the same town, every place sure looks the same. A Horse or carriage ride scene opens every episode, any kids seen are dang annoying, and the nineties flirtations are laughable amid the try-hard speak older. Dead Man’s Gun also has a noticeable abundance of lookalike blondes – several each episode where having had one woman witness it all would have been more interesting. “My Brother’s Keeper” is the weakest of the initial three television movie segments, as poor brothers in bar room quarrels and quick draw fights are somehow slow to get to the point. It’s too early for Dead Man’s Gun to seem like it will be the same episode all the time – if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The shabby boarding house of “Highwayman” is different from the usual lookalike town, but the weak, undistinguished cast and thin story also contribute to that same one-trick pony feeling. A then unlikely shorter episode order would have kept the series taut instead of repetitive. Despite a shopkeeper looking for dime novel excitement and a creepy old lady customer offering our gun as payment, the dream sequences in “Bounty Hunter” are too hokey. A wife so young she could be his daughter is just obnoxious, and the powerful temptations for a man-made small by his station in life are somehow too plain. Sage characters in these faulty episodes also add to the ambiguous nature of the gun – which can be triumphed by a good person or consume one in an evil that was already there. Is it the person or the gun’s influence? Some stories portray the philosophical debate well while others remain inconsistent. When grieving mother Kate Jackson (Dark Shadows) demands justice in “Death Warrant,” the gray area between legal bounty hunting and killing an innocent bystander is disappointingly lame, even pointless thanks to bad faux southern accents and greasy styling. Everybody looks rode hard and put away wet thanks to some juicy out of place saloon girls showers, and ultimately, the gun is an afterthought. “Stagecoach Marty” Jo Beth Williams (Poltergeist) handles holds ups and precious silver cargo before buying lavender soap and getting a makeover that catches a handsome passenger’s eye. Unfortunately, the sassy woman humor and unladylike likable awkwardness are too unevenly mixed with suspect romance, decoy wagons, and secret heist plots trying to do too much. A drunk ex-gunslinger returns to form in “The Resurrection Of Joe Wheeler,” but the slow start is laden with rapacious violence, thuggery, and incompetent town officials. Outlaws are raiding the town, and Dead Man’s Gun resorts to the same old one man with issues and a blonde on his arm. Of course, the straights, flushes, aces, and pairs pile up in “The Gambler” until a sassy blonde in a cowboy hat joins the high stakes game. Here the impressive gun action – one must kill to keep his luck – simply can’t overcome the contrived romance, card-playing montages, and streaky where is this going plot, for hot hand run cold stories are as old as the West itself. Likewise, Union troops are having a terrible time thanks to an inept young officer in “The Deserter.” No matter how many mystical riding montages we have, he keeps returning to the same painfully obvious cornfield, and the overuse of both slow motion and hectic for the cowardice feels D.O.A. before we even get to the soldier being tied up and bathed by a bunch of women. The titular safecracker in “Snake Finger” faces a newly designed, supposedly full proof, time-release safe installed at the local bank while romancing the owner’s daughter. The drama is never sure if we’re supposed to like the charming crook or support the crusty lawman in pursuit, and what should be an exciting cat and mouse is ultimately a sappy finale with little connection to our gun.

Fortunately, covered wagons, horses, painted ponies, gun powder, long rifles, and mud set the Dead Man’s Gun mood alongside western facades, saloons, spurs, stagecoaches, hay, and saddlery. While the slow-motion strobe when the gun’s firing is unnecessary, the ominous music themes and subtle guitar strings are a fine touch. Rays of light through doorways, silhouettes, and reflections in mirrors or windows also make for interesting visuals. Our holstered gun is often in the foreground ready and waiting amid lanterns, candles, old fashioned money notes, ticking pocket watches, period patterns, chewing tobacco, and wanted posters. Corsets, bustles, parasols, lace, chokers, ruffles, and bobbles provide a feminine touch while rustic outdoor filming, bitter snow, and shabby slat homes contrast luxury luggage, grand staircases, fancy mansions, and Victorian gardens. Sound effects and more foreboding lighting invoke spookiness as needed while flies buzz around the horses or the dead, yet Dead Man’s Gun is surprisingly colorful with rich greens, maroon, and purples highlighting rugs, antiques, and velvet sofas. Cigars and smoking are a realistic touch obviously not seen as much today, but how did they film that real rattlesnake bite?! The sex scenes, however, are totally lame with little to see, and nothing steamy before Showtime goes overboard later in the season without of place butt shots and side boobs. There’s a warning on the video that the picture quality is old, and indeed the nineties production looks VHS flat on a 4K television with some dark, tough to see nighttime photography. The relatively late Dead Man’s Gun DVD release also has no subtitles, and the episodes are spread out across a lot of discs despite the otherwise slim and bare-bones set. Thankfully, Dead Man’s Gun makes the most of its real locales, a pleasing sight compared to contemporary CGI. There isn’t an over-reliance on action or blood, gore, and typical western fast. Instead, the gunshots are realistically blunt with just enough splatter and drama to the shootouts. Such choice use makes the anticipation all the more intense and violent when gun action happens. After all, Chekov says that trigger’s got to be pulled!

Though occasionally rerunning on western themed channels, creators Ed and Howard Spielman’s (The Young Riders, Kung Fu) series always seemed unloved by Showtime and Dead Man’s Gun remains a little elusive. I remember waiting for new episodes back then and was disappointed when the more recent DVR was likewise filled with the same few reruns, so it’s pleasing to see all the episodes here almost anew. While some legs are better than others are and the series doesn’t go as full-on horror or mystical as some audiences may like, Dead Man’s Gun is the perfect weird western for steampunk-ish viewers looking for something that’s not your daddy’s western.

Interested in More Horror Westerns? See:

Brimstone

Bone Tomahawk

Penny Dreadful Season 3

 

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Fourteen: ‘Bigfoot Research and Evidence’

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

The fifth and final episode of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “Bigfoot Research and Evidence” and focuses on what investigators claim as proof of Bigfoot’s existence. The episode tries to answer two questions: What does science have to say about Bigfoot and why are many so sure they exist?

Once again, interviews are conducted with the same players from previous episodes, so the finale seems a bit repetitive if you’re binge-watching the series. Overall, Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is a solid primer for people newly initiated to the Bigfoot phenomenon. However, without introducing any compelling new evidence, the series lacks the revealing content likely to interest a seasoned Sasquatch enthusiast. Here are the links to my reviews of the first four episodes: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, and Episode 4.

One takeaway from Episode 5 is Bigfoot investigators are optimistic that advancing technology will improve evidence collection in the future. Another bonus: the episode shares examples of possible evidence.

A couple of impressive footprint casts are shown as well as an unusual handprint on a truck.

“Evidence comes in many forms,” said Cliff Barackman, a Bigfoot field researcher. “Footprint casts are some of the most compelling types of evidence.”

Recorded vocals of possible Bigfoot are also presented.

“We have a lot of audio that just you just can’t identify,” said Robert Swain, co-founder of the Arkansas Primate Evidence Society. “It’s not coyotes. It’s not fox. It’s not barred owls, It’s not deer blowing. Animals in the woods make some really weird noises and if you’re not careful, you’ll say this is Bigfoot. Recordings by far are probably the most evidence we have.”

Investigators play a few recordings of vocalizations heard in the wild. It’s exciting to think the sounds could be Bigfoot, but it’s far from proof of existence.

Hair samples are a third form of evidence. Wildlife researcher Doug Hajicek analyzes the morphological characteristics of hair samples.

“One of the first things that I look for is a tapered end,” Hajicek said. “The other thing about Sasquatch hairs is the fact that they have very little or no medulla.”

Scat, or droppings, is another example of Bigfoot evidence.

“There have been strange piles of scat found in the wilderness that do not correspond to any known animal,” said John Kirk, president of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club.

Finally, the photographic and video evidence is examined.

“When it comes to photographic evidence of Sasquatches, you need some scale items,” Barackman said. “You need to know a little bit about the background and credibility of the witness.”

Of course, the most famous and controversial image of Bigfoot is found in the Patterson-Gimlin film from the late 1960s.

“You can see the muscles moving,” Hajicek said. “There are breasts on the creature. The hairline makes perfect sense. You can tell the muscles in the back, the legs, the calf, the tendons are all moving. There was no technology back in 1967 to do that kind of thing.”

Derek Randles, a co-founder of the Olympic Project, is dedicated to documenting Bigfoot evidence.

“When it started, it started out as a comprehensive and aggressive camera-trap program,” Randles said of the Olympic Project. “It’s morphed into this study project now.”

Randles shared a thermal imaging video he thinks could possibly depict two Bigfoots.

“I think as we move forward into the future, Sasquatch research is definitely going to get more technical,” Randles said. “Just in the last 10 to 15 years, it’s taken a huge leap with thermal imagery especially and the quality of the recording devices.”

The footprints, the recorded vocalizations, hair samples, scat, and photos and videos presented as evidence do not equal proof for most in the scientific community.

“The physical reality of Bigfoot has never really turned out,” said primatologist Esteban Sarmiento. “There’s no body, no hair, no feces.”

Kirk thinks the scientific community should take the subject more seriously.

“Ever found a bear skeleton out there? No,” Kirk said. “Ever found a wolf skeleton out there? No. Ever found a cougar skeleton? No. People don’t find the skeletons and bones very often of animals that we do know about.

“One of the great difficulties in the life of Sasquatch has been the negative attitudes of scientists toward this,” Kirk said. “The scientific community has to realize that there is an enigma out there that requires resolution. You can’t hide your head in the sand. You can’t shrink away from it because it seems so preposterous. It’s not at all preposterous.”

The episode ends with the Chasing Bigfoot team following three separate investigations, two in Colorado and one in Missouri. The results included tree knocks, footprints, and a vanishing bowl of strawberries. Perhaps the most interesting find was strands of hair among the branches of a possible Bigfoot nest in the Colorado Rockies. Naturally, the analysis of the hair was inconclusive.

“Eventually, since they are real, one will be killed undoubtedly,” Barackman said. “Some logger will roll one over on the way to work one morning in his truck, or some testosterone-starved hunter will take one down and think he’s the man or some scientist will say okay here’s the bullet … this is going to do it. They are real and eventually, one will be brought in on a slab. Unfortunately, that’s what it’s going to take for academia or the public at large to accept the reality of a Sasquatch.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Fifteen: Night of the Sasquatch. I review the 2019 book by Keith Luethke.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. Lionel writes a column for HorrorAddicts.net titled The Bigfoot Files. His fiction has appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, and his short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition All Hallows’ Prose. Visit his website at lionelraygreen.com and say hello.

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Spank The Nun

Spank the Nun 

Hello music lovers and greetings from sunny California. At least that’s one perk about living here during this crazy time when the only option I have for entertainment is my own backyard. I’ve been looking out my window at my car longingly for the past 18 days as our country experiences pandemic panic and potty paper paranoia. These are dark times, for sure, but one of the most important ways we survive the challenges life throws our way is through music and art. The music community has stepped up tremendously to meet the needs of their fans, and in return, their fans are giving back in new ways such as virtual tip jars on Venmo. As tours are canceled or postponed, artists are looking for new ways to raise funds for themselves and their crews as well as supporting efforts to combat the COVID19 virus. Livestreaming “living room concerts” has become the norm. Each day there seems to be a new artist participating. I enjoyed watching the Luck Reunion show on Twitch the first week we were home and I’ve even been participating in an online songwriting experiment with former Sick Puppies singer/songwriter Shimon Moore. Hear the fruits of our group’s labor here and support Shim’s page on Facebook. We gotta do whatever we can to stay sane during this unprecedented event.

 

“Here’s the chance to raise merry hell.” This month I’m reviewing industrial/electro darkwave artist Spank The Nun whose self-deprecating sense of humor is appreciated as we head into a new month of sheltering-in-place. The artist describes their music as “uneasy listening,” and when listing band members on their Facebook page responds with “Does it really matter?” You’re not getting uplifting tunes with this band, but the steady beat and the doom-filled lyrics are perfect for those days you need some dark background music to complete your, well, dark tasks. Hearing samples from favorites like the film Misery makes listening to their latest album, Initial Decay Control, a treat. I’m betting the artist was like that kid in high school I used to like sitting next to in the back of the room because they always had an odd and inappropriate commentary running for my twisted enjoyment. The sinister whisperings on tracks like “Rotting Meat” are creepy enough to make you look behind you while working alone in your home office. The song “Swallow” contains this quote, which I feel describes our current situation: “We all know when this ends, there will be no winners, only survivors.”  Spankthenun is an entertaining listen well suited for our peculiar predicament. 

 

Stay tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings…

 

Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Top 5 Favorite Horror Board Games

There’s almost nothing I love more than a good board game and I’ve reviewed a lot of them here at HorrorAddicts.net. So, you might be wondering, do I have favorites? Of course I do.

Munchkin Bites

The Munchkins franchise is wildly popular and comes in many varieties, but my favorite by far is Munchkin Bites. Perfectly suited for Horror Addicts, Munchkin Bites contains plenty of funny references to your favorite movies and shows, with adorable art as well. This is the perfect way to introduce beginner players to a wide world of games outside of Candyland and Monopoly. Read my review here.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a fast-paced, raucous party game that’s very easy to learn (there’s even a free app to guide gameplay). Gameplay is much like Mafia (if you’ve played that classic), but more fun because everyone has special powers that let them participate. It can be played with a lot of people and there’s very little time commitment, so it’s ideal for larger groups. Read my review here.

Mysterium

Mysterium is as wonderful to play for its art as for the challenge of winning. Be prepared to bend your mind like an Olympic gymnast, because that’s the kind of skill this game requires. It’s best played with the kind of friends who are so close, they’re nearly telepathic. Of course, it’s just as fun to laugh over the missed connections if you lose. Read my review here.

King of Tokyo

Of all the games on this list, this is the best for the Baby Bats you may be raising. Who doesn’t want to be like Godzilla, after all? Gameplay uses dice to let players attack each other or purchase cards that give them special powers. Rounds move quickly so there’s little downtime to be bored. As an added bonus, the art is amazing. Read my review here.

Betrayal at House on the Hill

This is the game for the truly dedicated. Betrayal at House on the Hill is complicated, but worth is for those who want to put in the time. The thematic elements make it one of my all-time favorite games. There are hundreds of scenarios to play, and each game is different. If you want to make an investment, Betrayal at House on the Hill is well worth it. Read my review here.

I hope you like this list. If you have a favorite game you’d like to add (or maybe one you’d like for me to review!) leave a comment!

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Metamorphosis

Plotline: An evil spirit that changes faces infiltrates one family placing one brother in danger while the other tries to save him.

Who would like it: Fans of Korean horror, demonic possessions, exorcisms, good vs evil and psychological thrillers 

High Points: The ability of this demon to jump from body to body 

Complaints: —

Overall: *Notes from the author: I referenced the wrong movie, it wasn’t Ricochet I was thinking of it was The Fallen* I really enjoyed this movie 

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: VOD

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Book Review: Lilitu: Memoirs of a Succubus by Jonathan Fortin

Review by Daphne Strassert

Content Warnings: depicts graphic violence and sex

In 2017, HorrorAddicts.net ran the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. Over the course of the season, the writers (myself included) submitted horror writing of various types and competed for the top spot and the final prize of a book contract with Crystal Lake Publishing. The winner was Jonathan Fortin and the book was Lilitu: Memoirs of a Succubus.

I have waited literal years for this book to come out. Jonathan Fortin embodies the heart and soul of what it means to be a horror writer and I’m absolutely privileged to have competed against him. Lilitu shows the countless hours of hard work that he put into crafting his story.

HorrorAddicts.net helped to find a truly gifted author and bring a wonderful work of horror out into the world.

In 1876, Unbeknownst to the masses of Victorian England, humanity is about to change forever. The immortal denizens of the Earth—the vampires, the lilitu, and the necromancers—are tired of hiding in the shadows of the night. They’ve hatched a plot to take the world for themselves.

Maraina never felt as if she belonged with her aristocratic family. She never felt pretty enough or charming enough. She was stifled by a future that held no hope for her. That changes with The Nightfall. When the demons rise to take England, Maraina faces a choice: renounce her humanity and become a succubus, or remain human and die a slave.

She is introduced to the world of demons by Salem, a powerful incubus who is fascinated by Maraina’s strength of mind. But the new society brought about by the immortals is just as cruel and evil as the one that they overthrew. Maraina may have forsaken her own humanity, but she won’t turn her back on it entirely.

Soon she finds herself at odds with Salem, as both he and the world spiral further into darkness. Maraina must find a way to save everyone from evil on all sides, in a way that only a demon can.

Though Lilitu is a long book, it never feels that while reading it. Scenes flow together seamlessly, each action leading to the next in a manner that pulls the reader along. Fortin lays the groundwork for plot twists early without giving too many clues that would reveal them. The result is a gripping story that keeps the reader engaged throughout.

The heart of the story lies with Maraina Blackwood. Maraina is a feminist icon trapped in the Victorian era. Plagued by the restrictive values and burdensome expectations of her time, Maraina is often her own worst enemy. Watching her grow to discover her potential is satisfying. She explores what true humanity means outside of mortality and damnation. Though her understanding of the world is turned on its head, she finds the core of who she really is.

Salem is a fantastic antagonist. At first, he’s sexy and alluring, his dark nature luring Maraina in. As the book progresses, the very things that made Salem appealing begin to lose their shine. Salem changes throughout the book, but it is not a fall from grace, rather a reveal as the scales fall from Maraina’s eyes. Salem becomes more purely himself in all his sinister glory. He becomes a more powerful enemy as Maraina herself comes into her own power.

In Lilitu, Fortin has created a wholly unique and fantastical world. The elements of the Nightfall perfectly highlight the injustices faced in Victorian England (and today). It’s clear that Fortin did his research. The details of Victorian society are seamless, creating the perfect backdrop for the horror elements that are introduced. The mythos of the immortal characters is thorough. Fortin hints at a much deeper world than the one that’s presented in Lilitu, making the reader hope that there will be more to come.

Fortin’s writing is deliciously gruesome. He strikes the perfect balance in his descriptions between the beautiful and horrifying. The emotions of the characters come through clearly and the horror to come creeps up slowly, giving the reader a sense of dread that can’t quite be explained.

The story is a delight to read but provides more substance than a shock-and-awe horror thriller would. Lilitu explores the nature of sexuality, war, and morality. Fortin lays bare themes about prejudice and justice that are just as timely now as they are for the characters.

In Lilitu, Jonathan Fortin has created a horror masterpiece that defies many genre expectations. He weaves together elements of social commentary, coming of age triumphs, and Lovecraftian horror with ease, packaging them neatly in a story that leaves no room to put the book down.

 

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Dead Ringer

Dead Ringer is a Juicy Twofer from the One Bette Davis

by Kristin Battestella

Bette Davis stars in the 1964 thriller Dead Ringer as twins one high and one low – leading to an intricate scheme of scandals, affairs, secrets, blackmail, and murder…

Based on an earlier Mexican picture, actor turned director Paul Henried (Casablanca) and writer Oscar Millard (Angel Face) open Dead Ringer with frenetic, mood-setting credits, cemeteries, Latin, funerals, and veils. The servants are surprised to see the reunited sisters are twins, and the catching up dialogue is laden with history – heather to remember wartime trysts in Scotland, one man between two women, and a shotgun marriage twenty years ago. Large rooms allow for a stage-like two-hander space while the camera can cut away to different angles mirroring each sister’s facade as the sordid shade and one on one conversations escalate. Looming portraits of the deceased man provide sadness over what could have been and our jilted twin can’t let go – leading to angry phone calls, threats, and purse revolvers. A change of clothes and the right haircut make our disparate twins look quite alike until choice zooms and tense up-close shots reveal the difference. In spite of some camp – Bette is getting rough with herself, after all, and we know it – viewers are already invested in Dead Ringer by the time the checkbooks are slapped from one’s hand and sisters are shoving each other into action. Both performances are so good, and ambient music from the bar below covers the back and forth shouting. Drumbeats countdown as the note is shown while the gun is drawn, using shrewd editing to not show shocking shots and familial violence even though we are appalled all the same by the sibling twists. The desperate, eponymous ruse takes up the first half-hour of the film with suicide notes and weapons wiped clean. Today’s audience, however, will notice slip-ups, smoking mistakes, and flaws in the not so thought-through plan. Can she pull this off or will the family dog and awkward moments with the servants give away the difference? What’s her usual drink or the combination to the safe? Violent revelations and hocking jewels lead to arsenic, heart attacks, and maulings. Who exactly did what and when, who will face justice or get away with it, and what was it all for anyway? Police questioning creates tense moments amid covering tracks, entertaining the elite, and estate papers needing signatures that may not match the handwriting documented on that all-important passport.

Who’s a better match for Bette Davis (All About Eve) than Bette Davis (Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte)? Wealthy Margaret DeLorca hates climbing her grand stairs and doesn’t like the way she looks in black, but her late husband was rich and she offers her frumpy, chain-smoking sister Edith Phillips her cast off couture – it will be out of style by time she’s officially out of mourning. Margaret is sleek, getting massages while on the phone and unbothered by Mr. DeLorca’s passing, which Edith resents since she loved him first, accusing her sister of never caring about him before refusing Margaret’s proposed money and trips. Margaret claims to love her sister and insists the man between them was no big deal while Edith still regrets her snobby need to take whatever was hers and how Margaret ruined both their lives. She kept up with The DeLorcas over the decades via the social columns, but Margaret didn’t know they lived in the same city until Edith arrived on a bus for the funeral. Their lavish life, however, wasn’t all it seemed, and eventually, Margaret tries to bribe Edith but she can’t forgive her sister for any amount despite being behind on the rent and facing eviction from the meager one-room apartment above her cocktail lounge. However, Edith likes the way she looks in her sister’s stole and smiles at her own reflection more when she coifs her hair just like her sister’s. Knowing how she was tricked out of the charmed life on top of losing what little she has now is apparently too much for Edith, and although she momentarily feels bad about switching tender mementos, she goes through with it anyway. Blunders at society receptions, apologizing, or forgetting the rosary can be dismissed as distraught – Edith didn’t get to be the wife but finds a certain solace in living with the bittersweet memory of what she wanted. The audience almost feels sorry for her pathetic state. We want Edith to get away with it and worry over every slip up even as she gains confidence in the role, speaking frankly about marriage and all the things that made her unhappy. She’s ready to forget who her sister was despite ironic codicils in her lost love’s will. Sadly, the deaths and bodies exhumed get out of hand, and ultimately, Edith plays her part too well.

Honest policeman Karl Malden (I Confess) brings Edith a humble watch for her birthday, and Jim Hobbson is ready to retire, buy a farm, and give her the best. It could be a nice little relationship, but she’s hung up on the past and he can tell something’s wrong. Jim’s angry at Edith’s death and blames himself, intruding on “Margaret” with investigations and memories she’s trying to forget. Unfortunately, Margaret’s jealous playboy lover and would be golf pro, Peter Lawford (Little Women) also throws a wrench into all Edith’s plans. Upon returning from an island holiday, Tony Collins puts two and two together now that “Margaret” doesn’t like his pillow talk – leading to some campy surprises, threats, and blackmail. Glamorous brooches, jewels, and pearls fill the void in his $700 a month love nest, and hey, $3,000 a month allowance in 1964 would be over $24,000 today! Vintage L.A. views and classic cars set the ritzy mood alongside furs, hats, gloves, and tea sets. The cocktail lounge is dark with low ceilings compared to the lavish estate with mirrors and giant bedrooms bigger than the poorer relation’s entire apartment. Classy accents, nibs, and silver add sophistication even as Dead Ringer scandalously shows the ladies in their slips – stripping down the deceased and removing the stockings after the unseen shot to the temple is confirmed with two drops of blood. Crescendos punctuate tense scenes or sadness as needed while the black and white gray-scale creates shadows and ambiguity. Double stand-ins and split screens are probably obvious to today’s special effects savvy audiences, however, the dual conversations are well done. Rearview mirrors and camera angles also placing others in the ensemble in visual trickery likewise play up the duality as cigarette form and lingering smoke punctuate up close shots. On the 4K television Dead Ringer looks quite crisp, and the DVD includes a retrospective with Hollywood author Boze Hadleigh in addition to commentaries and vintage behind the scenes tours.

There are similar stories to Dead Ringer – including an Ann Jillian remake and the recent series Ringer – that may make the twin twists common for modern audiences. This isn’t horror per se, either, yet there are certainly disturbing moments thanks to the sibling violence and dead doppelgangers. Despite a few plot holes, obvious crimes, and an unclear passage of time, the turnabout drama in Dead Ringer is juicy to the end. Every scene is packed with layers and discourse thanks to another tour de force Davis performance worth seeing at least twice, naturally.

For More Spooky Classics, Re-visit:

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Dark Shadows Video Review

I Married a Witch

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Thirteen: ‘The Bigfoot Adventure Weekend’

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Episode 4 of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “The Bigfoot Adventure Weekend” and simply follows the organizers and the folks attending the 2016 event at Salt Fork State Park in Ohio.

It’s more informal and less informative than the previous episodes, which I reviewed. Here are the links for the reviews on Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3.

This episode is an introduction for anyone interested in what happens on a family-friendly Bigfoot Adventure Weekends expedition. The event is a three-day, two-night camping trip and attracts Bigfoot enthusiasts from as far away as Canada, New York, and Florida.

“We started out with 12 to 15 the first year,” said Alan Megargle, one of the event’s three co-founders. “This year we’re close to 50. We have people here that have claimed to see Bigfoot and people here that have never been camping before. We have a whole mix of people. That’s what we take pride in this event. It’s for everyone.”

“Our expectation every year is that people come away and talk about it and realize it’s just a little more than about Bigfooting,” said co-founder Jesse Morgan. “It’s more about you can come out and have a good time. It doesn’t have to be so serious.”

“I think it was the third year we did it, and the group came back from the night hike and they were just freaking out because they had so much activity that was happening,” said co-founder Sharon Lomurno. “And they all came back to the campfire, and they were all chatting. That’s what makes us feel good.”

The episode features brief interviews with a few of the attendees from first-time families to more serious Bigfoot researchers like Robert Webb. Webb said he’s seen Bigfoot twice and shared photographs of his evidence (a twisted tree and a track at least 16 inches long). Webb leads us to the park’s Bigfoot Ridge and shows us the location of his first sighting, where he used a night vision device to see half the head, a shoulder, and the left arm of a Bigfoot behind a tree. He says he’s had more success with his “passive observation” technique than using howls and wood knocks.

The event also included a presentation on casting a Bigfoot print and a class about video and audio evidence. I have to admit hearing the audio playback of the howls of a possible Bigfoot was the highlight for me.

The centerpiece of Bigfoot Adventure Weekends is the night hikes where groups venture into the woods, using howls and wood knocks to try and stir up a Bigfoot.

“Ninety-five percent of the time nothing ever happens,” said Bigfoot investigator Marc DeWerth. “It’s just being persistent in your location.”

While nothing happened on the Bigfoot front, the night groups did hear sounds and movement, most likely an owl and coyotes. Trail cameras didn’t produce any interesting photographs over the weekend.

Anyone watching Episode 4 hoping for new evidence of Bigfoot will be disappointed. But if you’re interested in attending a Bigfoot Adventure Weekends event, the episode does give you an extended snapshot of what it’s all about.

I checked the website, and the next Bigfoot Adventure Weekend in Salt Fork State Park is scheduled August 28-30. It costs $140 for adults and $60 for children. There’s another one at Glen Isle Resort in Bailey, Colorado, from Aug. 7-9 for $150. Click here to go to the website.

Don’t expect to encounter Bigfoot at these events, though. But as one attendee said while gesturing to the other campers, “It really doesn’t matter if Bigfoot exists. This is what’s fun.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Fourteen: Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth. I review Episode 5 in the 2015 documentary series titled “Bigfoot Research and Evidence.”


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. Lionel writes a column for HorrorAddicts.net titled The Bigfoot Files. His fiction has appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, and his short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition All Hallows’ Prose. Visit his website at lionelraygreen.com and say hi.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Trinity

Plotline: While getting his morning coffee at his sister’s coffee shop, Michael accidently bumps into the priest who abused him when he was a child, triggering a surreal trip through his past, with stopovers in three churches—until he snaps back to the present moment and decides how to confront the monster that haunts him.

Who would like it: This isn’t horror, however fans who enjoy surreal, artistic and philosophical films will like this movie

High Points: The way the film is edited is confusing at first until you get near the end, where it all makes sense.

Complaints

Overall: It was a really interesting watch

Stars

Where I watched it: Link provided by director

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Book Review: Wild Hunt by Nancy Kilpatrick

Review by Daphne Strasert

Content Warnings: depictions of graphic violence, torture, and sex

Nancy Kilpatrick, author of the Thrones of Blood series (reviewed here at HorrorAddicts.net), brings a gripping novella set in a modern world of vampires.

Lorelei lost her vision as a child. For her, the world is composed of blurry smears. But there is more than one type of sight. Lorelei makes a living as a psychic, traveling to fairs and music festivals wherever someone may want their fortune told. One night, her fate catches up to her in the form of the mysterious vampir Vlad. Vlad needs Lorelei’s help to fulfill his destiny and save himself from the clutches of his terrible father. Though they don’t initially get along, Vlad and Lorelei eventually come to and understanding: they can’t escape their destiny any more than they can escape each other.

Wild Hunt is a fast-paced adventure. While shorter than Kilpatrick’s other works, she still manages to pack in a lot of plot, creating a fulfilling story that is hard to put down and satisfying to finish. Kilpatrick creates a good balance between character autonomy and the relentless press of fate.

Lorelei is strong-willed and tenacious. What is most interesting is that she knows she is much weaker than those she meets throughout the story. She knows that she has other advantages. She trusts in her own abilities and uses her wits to conquer.

Vlad was raised in a world where strength is the only virtue and brutality is the only means to power. As a vampir, he believed humans were useful only for food and breeding. When he meets Lorelei, a woman whose help he desperately needs and whom he cannot overpower, he must change his thinking. He realizes that he does not want to be who he was molded into.

Kilpatrick’s writing is emotional. She never shies away from uncomfortable material. She paints the world and her characters with a visceral realism that makes the story come to life.

If you like Nancy Kilpatrick’s other writing, or if you’re looking for a new author to give you your vampire fix, make sure to give Wild Hunt a read.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

What went Wrong with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

by Kristin Battestella

Director Rob Cohen (Dragonheart) takes up the mantle from producer Stephen Sommers, director of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, for the 2008 sequel The Mummy:Tomb of the Dragon Emperor as Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Evelyn (Maria Bello) come to the rescue when their son Alex (Luke Ford) discovers the entombed Dragon Emperor (Jet Li). Once unleashed, however, the only person who can stop the resurrected Emperor is Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh) – the sorceress who cursed him.

Ancient Chinese mounds, swords, armor, and dynastic motifs accent the assassination plots, stabbings, raids, and conquest in the opening prologue. The enslaved building of The Great Wall, life after death texts, and forbidden romance betrayals, unfortunately, are a lot like the opening of the First Film, right down to the same Mummy music cues. Then again, the elemental powers, ancient libraries, tormented generals, and immolating curses nonetheless make for a great tale – one viewers forget isn’t it’s own adventure once Tomb of the Dragon Emperor restarts with our previous heroes now unhappy with post-war quiet and in a rut despite luxury living. Their son’s discoveries of Chinese monoliths and the Emperor’s tomb come easy and don’t feel super epic thanks to the back and forth editing between the bored O’Connells and grave robber skeletons. There’s little time to awe at the 2,000-year-old frozen in time clay army when the more interesting plot elements are glossed over for set pieces treated as more important than the wonder. We can’t enjoy the dragon crossbows, booby traps, or tomb chases because The O’Connells were apparently doing secret espionage work in the interim that we didn’t get to see, either. Instead, some Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Cradle of Life Eye of Shangra-La gem points the way to eternal life, with Tomb of the Dragon Emperor both embracing the Asian history yet feeling xenophobic with evil uniforms, double-crossing enemies, and contrived western interference repeating the prior films’ M.O. Chases through the streets with fireworks and New Year run amok are fun, but long, hollow fight sequences that do nothing to advance the plot make Tomb of the Dragon Emperor feel longer than it is. There’s no sense of the scope or magical powers despite Himalayan treks, avalanches, mystical healings, and a revived Emperor who himself is asking what this is all for anyway. After the first hour, it’s not quite clear what’s happening with everything including a three-headed dragon thrown at the screen in the last half hour. With a hop, skip, and jump, we’re at a Great Wall spectacle raising rival dead armies in a Lord of the Rings easy meets CGI versus CGI a la The Phantom Menace that rapidly loses its touch.

Fly fishing in the English countryside is not quite Rick O’Connell’s thing, and Brendan Fraser’s once proactive, rugged adventurer is now an out of touch, corny old man with outdated weapons and unheeded advice. It’s weird to see our favorite couple now arguing about their parenting and contemplating mistakes made – and not just because Maria Bello (The Dark) replaces Rachel Weisz as Evelyn in Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. After writing two successful novels about their mummy adventures, she’s hung up with writer’s block on the promised third book, but Evie doesn’t have much to say or do once the characters are forgotten in the nonsensical action. Bello looks great in the period frocks and initially the camera accents that forties tone with coy smiles and under the hat brim poise, but this Evie does indeed seem like a different person. It would have been interesting if Bello had instead been a second wife and resented step mom competing with Evie’s memory. Although the kid in peril was one of the problematic parts of The Mummy Returns, Luke Ford (Hercules) is now the grown up Alex rebelling against his parents yet conveniently following in their archaeology footsteps. Unfortunately, immortal hang ups and young love opposites attract can’t save the character from falling completely flat, and Uncle Jonathan John Hannah is a nightclub owner who spends most of his barely-there comic relief with a yak while pilot Liam Cunningham (Hunger) is merely convenient transportation. It’s a pity we only really see Jet Li’s (Romeo Must Die) warlord at the beginning and the end of Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. For most of the picture, the eponymous bad guy – who doesn’t get any other name despite the historical possibilities – is just a resurrected, stilted, CGI thing more like an automaton robot rather than the feared man in charge. His powers over the elements are small scale or convenient, manipulating snow or fire and shape-shifting as needed without any real countdown or ascension of power as anchored by Arnold Vosloo’s Imhotep in the First Film. For the finale we get Li’s fine action skills as expected, but he never really has the chance to be the true villain of the piece. Likewise, Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies) is relegated to glossed over bookends. Her immortal Zi Yuan witch lives in Shangri-La, and 2,000 years of magical pools are quickly explained away before a great but too brief one on one battle between our ancient foes – which is all we really want to see in Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

While some of the fiery terracotta effects don’t look so great on bu-ray, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor does well with tangible sand, statues, tents, and archaeology tools. The grand English estates match the vintage cars, antiques, typewriters, gloves, fedoras, and stoles. Temples in the mountains, Asian architecture, and snowy panoramas create a sense of adventure while chariots and molten horses coming to life invoke danger. Unfortunately, the shootouts, attacks, and explosions are super loud and cliché music cues are noticeably out of place. To start, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor feels very forties styled in a Universal homage, but then the action becomes hectic and modern messy with stereotypical seventies zooms when it comes to the kung fu. The camera, the people, and the fantastics are all moving at the same time and it’s tough for the audience to see anything, and those contrived yetis – yes, yetis – are embarrassingly bad. Today, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor could have been a direct to streaming off-shoot adventure – after all they’re still making those direct to video Scorpion King movies. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor breaks from the more familiar theme with a bait and switch title caught between two masters. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor seeks to take the series in a new direction whilst also keeping its ties to the previous films. If this had no connection to The Mummy and embraced its own dynastic legends and lore, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor could have been a fun action adventure. Perhaps it can still be entertaining for youth able to separate it from the legacy of the First Film. Otherwise, the flawed, thin story, and try hard of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is just window dressing reaching for an adventurous charm that isn’t there.

 

Revisit More Mummies Including:

Gods of Egypt

Mummy Movies!

Tomb of Ligeia

 

Merrill’s Musical Musings: The Music of Sharone

The Music of Sharone 

sharoneGreetings and welcome to another issue of Merrill’s Musical Musings. Today I’m checking out Denver Goth rocker Sharone. She started her career inspired by the haunting rock of Evanescence and has since created a sound that is unique. She’s opened for popular rock bands like Fuel, Saving Abel, Tantric, and Stitched Up Heart. Fans of bands like Nightwish and Lacuna Coil may enjoy her melodic tunes, which are full of deeply personal lyrics. Known for her energetic stage show, the artist experiments with different instrumentation and vocal styles and sounds creating a collection of stylistic songs. Her third album Reflection, which came out in December 2019, dances between gentle, mellow piano to hard-hitting and metal-infused beats that will catch the listener’s attention. “White Witch,” “Closer to Love,” and “Final Reflection” are high points on the album. Keep an eye on her social media for performances in the Denver area this spring. She’s working on new songs with her band and promises a great show.

 Social Links:

https://sharone-music.com         

https://www.facebook.com/sharone.official/      

https://mobile.twitter.com/sharone_music         

https://www.instagram.com/sharone_official/   

Download / Stream

https://music.apple.com/us/artist/sharone/1444696312

https://open.spotify.com/artist/3AmKAuGRZ8Ir8XTRl2IlXp

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Sharone&i=digital-music&search-type=ss&ref=ntt_srch_drd_B004RP63DW

https://play.google.com/store/music/artist/Sharone?id=Axh2g6cipumpvbu3cshwjqqtnva

 

THE BIGFOOT FILES : Chapter Twelve | ‘The Bigfoot Phenomenon’

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Episode 3 of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “The Bigfoot Phenomenon” and focuses on how the cryptid became so popular by interviewing investigators, researchers, and people in the business of selling Bigfoot merchandise.

While the first two episodes concentrated more on the actual cryptid, this episode is more about the media that propelled Bigfoot to popularity. You can read my reviews of the first episode here and the second episode here.

While sightings of Bigfoot were first reported in 1811, the phenomenon didn’t take off till the latter half of the 20th century.

“When Bigfoot was brought to TV, it really took off,” said Cliff Barackman, a researcher and a member of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot team. “I think that popular television programs have really played a role in kind of getting the subject out there. There was a surge in the 1970s. In the 1970s you had things like In Search Of …, but really the 1980s kind of shut that surge down.”

What happened in the 1980s? The tabloids turned Bigfoot into fodder for trashy stories.

“The tabloids would blast on the front page ‘Bigfoot ate my baby’ … or all those nonsense things, and we all saw them while waiting in line at the grocery store,” Barackman said.

Today, many in the Bigfoot “business” feel the cryptid is a legitimate mystery.

“I think Bigfoot moved from tabloid … to something the majority of people think there may be something out there,” said Robert Swain, a co-founder of the Arkansas Primate Evidence Society.

Episode 3 mentions TV shows and movies like Bigfoot and Wildboy (1977), The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Harry and the Hendersons (1987), The Sasquatch Gang (2006), Fishing Naked (2015), and Willow Creek (2013) for helping popularize the elusive legend.

Of course, with the Internet now, anyone can share an encounter – or a hoax – the moment after it happens.

One of the more interesting parts of Episode 3 is the interviews with the people who have used the phenomenon for business. Consumers can pay to go on Bigfoot hunts, attend conferences, or buy merchandise.

“The number of people interested has grown,” said John Pickering, core member of the Olympic Project. “And with that, you have economic things become involved.”

In Episode 3, you meet Jim Myers who owns The Sasquatch Outpost in Bailey, Colorado, where you can tour a museum and meet Boomer, a seven-foot-tall Bigfoot figure; and Michael Johnson who’s co-founder of Sasquatch Investigations of the Rockies and the Bigfoot, Yowie & Yeti store in Denver, Colorado.

“A lot of people come to our store, and they’re looking for answers,” Johnson said.

Snuffy Destefano, of Pennsylvania, specializes in Bigfoot chainsaw carvings.

“I make a living off carving Bigfoot,” said Destefano while at an Ohio Bigfoot Conference where he was trying to sell his work to the more than 2,000 attendees.

The Bigfoot phenomenon has spawned a community of thousands of investigators and researchers, and many are part of organized associations.

“It’s become quite a hobby looking for more evidence,” Pickering said. “It’s becoming more a social affair.”

“The Bigfoot community at large is like this big dysfunctional family,” said Derek Randles, co-founder of the Olympic Project. “There’s a lot of infighting. There are a lot of politics in Bigfoot research. It would shock you.”

Whether or not Bigfoot is real, the phenomenon certainly is. There’s even a $1 million reward out there for someone who can produce a Bigfoot.

“You’re getting more sightings because now Bigfoot’s mainstream,” said Bigfoot investigator Marc DeWerth of Ohio. “Twenty-five years ago, if you said you saw a Bigfoot, you wouldn’t even tell your own family because nobody would believe you. I think the mystery is going to be solved very soon.”

Perhaps primatologist Esteban Sarmiento summed up the impetus of the Bigfoot phenomenon best.

“If you live long enough, you’ve seen things that you can’t explain.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirteen: Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth. I review Episode 4 in the 2015 documentary series titled “The Bigfoot Adventure Weekend.”


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. Lionel writes a column for HorrorAddicts.net titled The Bigfoot Files. His fiction has appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, and his short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition All Hallows’ Prose.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Lodge

Plotline: A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.

Who would like it: Fans of Hereditary…psychological horror, occult and cults, religious horror and unpredictable endings. 

High Points: The ending! 

Complaints: None!

Overall: This movie is insane!

Stars: 5 Stars 

Where I watched it: Review link proved by Neon Studios

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Book Review: Thrones of Blood #5: Anguish of the Sapiens Queen by Nancy Kilpatrick

Review by Daphne Strasert

Content Warnings: This book contains graphic depictions of violence, sex, and rape.

Anguish of the Sapiens Queen is the fifth book in the Thrones of Blood series by Nancy Kilpatrick. At this point, I would not recommend jumping into the series without reading the preceding volumes. You can see my reviews of the earlier books here:

Revenge of the Vampir King

Sacrifice of the Hybrid Princess

Abduction of Two Rulers

Savagery of the Rebel King

King Hades has a problem. Relations between the worlds of the vampir and sapiens have always been hostile, but now the existence of both teeter on the edge of oblivion. The sadistic vampir Queen Lamia has poisoned the Sapien populations with a virus that makes all men sterile. Without a cure, sapiens will die out in a generation. Without a source of food, the vampirii will follow soon after.

A compromise must be reached between the sapiens and the vampirii if they are to avert this disaster. Unfortunately, for Hades this means contending with the fierce and willful Queen Liontyne.

In Anguish of the Sapiens Queen, Kilpatrick takes a much more diverse storytelling approach than she has in previous volumes. Characters from the earlier stories still have their own story to tell. Throughout the plot, she balances the many intersecting storylines with ease, weaving them together in a way that not only keeps the reader engaged, but that also intensifies the main storyline, raising tension with the knowledge that the stakes are getting higher and higher, even if the protagonists don’t yet realize it. Kilpatrick certainly ensures that we won’t be going anywhere when the next in the series comes around.

King Hades has always prided himself on being more level headed than the other vampir rulers. Though he has been undead for centuries, he can still sympathize with the powerful emotions that rule the sapiens. Yet his immeasurable patience is put to the test when he goes up against Queen Liontyne.

Liontyne trusts no one. She sealed her heart away a long time ago, ruling through self-preservation rather than any love for her people. Though her temper has never dimmed, the light has long gone out of her life. She lives like a caged version of the fearsome cat she was named for—hopeless but ever ready to lash out.

As always, Kilpatrick’s descriptions are vivid and engaging. She handles personal interactions with ease, portraying an inventive cultural society without losing the impact of raw emotional connection. The world of Thrones of Blood continues to expand, giving us more and more to look forward to.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced adventure with plenty of romance and dark fantasy, consider the Thrones of Blood series. If you’ve enjoyed the books so far, Anguish of the Sapiens Queen certainly won’t disappoint you.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: All Things Dracula Video Review

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz compares and contrasts Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and then some more Draculas, Nosferatus, and television to Bram Stoker’s original 1897 novel. Penny Dreadful, Hammer Horror, Gerard Butler, Francis Ford Coppola and Netflix’s recent Dracula series all have a moment here alongside Dracula: Dead and Loving It because why the heck not?

 

 

Read all the reviews mentioned in our Dracula conversation including:

Penny Dreadful Season 3

Dracula (2013)

Dracula 2000

Dracula 1931

Dracula (Spanish Version)

Nosferatu

Horror of Dracula

Brides of Dracula

Dracula Has Rise from the Grave

Dracula A.D. 1972

Count Dracula (1977)

Dracula (1979)

Dan Curtis’ Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Dracula: Dead and Loving It

 

Thank you for being part of Horror Addicts.net and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage!

 

Our Horror Addicts.net Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net

Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference: http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/

Tell Kbatz what you’d like to see with our Online Survey: https://forms.gle/3CE4LjFTLLxxyedK6

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kbatzkrafts/

 

 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Sweetheart

Plotline: Jenn has washed ashore on a small tropical island and it doesn’t take her long to realize she’s completely alone. She must spend her days not only surviving the elements, but must also fend off the malevolent force that comes out each night.

Who would like it: Fans of monsters and survival movies and films with a strong female lead

High Points: This movie is just amazing, I loved everything about it

Complaints: None, nada, zip!

Overall: This movie was a blast, I loved it!

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: VOD

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Book Review : Knowing When To Die by Mort Castle

Review – Knowing When to Die by Mort Castle

Review By Chantal Boudreau

I volunteered for this review because the premise of this short story collection, stories about death, intrigued me. I especially like what I refer to as “real-life horror,” tales with no supernatural element so I don’t have to quash the skeptic in me while I’m reading, and I was hoping I’d find at least a few of these within the collection. I wasn’t disappointed.

I’m not sure I would describe all of these stories as horror. They do all deal with death, as promised, in many instances suicide, and at a minimum have an element of the startling or disturbing, but many of them did not chill or scare me. They were beautifully written, with a keen awareness of language and a plethora of metaphor, so they were definitely worthy of being read, but I was looking for something a little more scary. The stories I would describe as horror I would define as “literary horror” and play with the ideas within them. Some of the stories were concept stories, without an expected start to finish approach but more of an exploration of theme.

I did have some favourites amongst the collection. The opening story hooked me. I’m not a big celebrity fan type, and I think Marilyn Munroe has been overdone but found the novel way of presenting her death fascinating. “Guidance” is one of the scarier stories, and I liked it even though I usually find stories involving ghosts not all that frightening. I considered “Robot” quite entertaining and I’d like to see more stories with seniors as protagonists. It is one of the better character studies in the collection. And lastly, the story I enjoyed the most — the one that seemed the most chilling and jarring and is based on a real-life event — is “Prayer”.

If you are the type of person that looks for pulpy, gore-filled horror anthologies, this collection is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for something a little more subtle and intellectual, I would recommend this as a good read. It is certainly thought-provoking.

Book Review : Clockwork Wonderland

Clockwork Wonderland Review by Ariel Da Wintre

I really enjoyed this Anthology. The book consisted of 14 stories and a poem. It has something
for everyone; scary, intriguing and creative. All the stories have the theme of clocks and Alice in
Wonderland characters. The writers added new characters, taking the classic story and
giving it a horror element. I think this works really well as parts of the original story could be
considered scary all on their own. I found the stories very original and some I didn’t
want to end.

The book starts with a poem by Emerian Rich, “Hatter’s Warning”, and it reminded me of the poems in the original Alice in Wonderland.

The first story is, “Jabberclocky”, by Jonathan Fortin. This story is about a boy named Henry and his unexpected visitor,  the Hatter. I really liked this and I was completely drawn into Henry’s story and the scary Jabberclocky. I loved the end but I didn’t want it to end.

I am still tripped out by the very scary, “Hands of Time” by Stephanie Ellis. It is about an apprentice named Rab who meets an executioner and the timekeeper. I don’t want to give anything away but if you like a bloody good time this is the story for you.

Next, “Clockwork Justice”, by Trinity Adler, is another thrilling story. Alice finds herself in Wonderland and accused of murder. Who did she murder? I won’t say but will she keep her head? Will she solve the crime? All my favorite characters are part of the story Mad Hatter, Cheshire cat and more.

The story, “My Clockwork Valentine”, by Sumiko Saulson is about a girl named Blanche and what happens to her. I loved the imagery in this story and the concept of time. You will get swept away by the story and hope our heroine survives.

“Blood Will Have Blood” by James Pyne, starts with the main character, Alicia, getting pulled into Wonderland and being told she is the new Alice. I think you can see where this is going. I found this story creative and different and it is about a blood clock. It is pretty scary I don’t want to be part of that Wonderland.

I loved “Midnight Dance” by Emerian Rich. This story follows the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. It has a very different twist but with characters we all know and love from the book and Zombies!

The next story, “A Room for Alice” by Ezra Barany, is a scary story that follows Alice as she wakes up in a scary place and meets Tweedle D. I enjoyed this story it had lots of plots and twists and left me thinking for some time afterward. It had a lot of creepy elements and I found it very descriptive.

“Frayed Ears” by H.E. Roulo is a story I loved. It has a Rabbit going through many childhood fairy tales. I couldn’t wait to see who would show up next to help the White Rabbit and will he make it on time and who is causing this to happen.

The next story is “King of Hearts,” by Dustin Coffman. This story had a great twist, a guy goes down the rabbit hole instead of Alice. Lenny is checking the closet for his daughter who hears a strange noise and finds himself in Wonderland. He meets the White Rabbit and other characters. Watch out for the Queen of Hearts!

“Riddle”, by N. McGuire, is about a young lady named Alice. She follows the white rabbit on a train and she is drawn into a very strange situation with different Wonderland characters.  Will she solve the riddle?

The next story is, “Tick Tock”, by Jaap Boekestein. This story has all the characters you love but they are not the way you remember them. Wonderland is at war and you don’t know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. This story will keep you intrigued.

The story, “Gone A’ Hunting,” by Laurel Anne Hill, follows a young lady named Alease who is chasing the White Rabbit for dinner. She gets more than she’s bargaining for and needs to escape. Will the White Rabbit help her after she was just trying to kill him? Great story, scary to the end.

I really liked “The Note”, by Jeremy Megargee. It had a great concept. Wonderland is not the same and the character telling the story seems so lost and sad. The story has a lot of suspense. I enjoyed the whole vision of this scary wonderland.

The next story is “Half Past”, by K.L. Wallis. This story follows a girl named Alyssa. She is bumped into by someone who drops their pocket watch. She tries to return it and finds herself traveling on a train to Wonderland with Albert Hare. Alyssa ends up going with the hare to his sister Hatty’s home where everyone keeps calling her Alice. There are great twists and turns in this story. The Queen of Hearts in this story which keeps you wondering until the end; will Alyssa/Alice survive.

The final story is, “Ticking Heart”,  by Michele Roger. The story is about a friend of Alice’s coming to visit her in Wonderland and something is very wrong. The Queen of Spades wants to take over and it’s going to be bloody. Will the good guys save Alice and Wonderland?

I enjoyed this collection of short stories thoroughly. I also found myself looking at the cover thinking it really fits this book. I could read these stories over and over again. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Dracula (2020)

Netflix’s New Dracula is Downright Frustrating to Watch.

by Kristin Battestella

Initially, I was excited for the BBC/Netlfix 2020 co-production of Dracula featuring Claes Bang (The Square) as the infamous Transylvania count terrorizing lawyer Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan) before sailing to England on the subsequently cursed Demeter. Unorthodox nun Agatha Van Helsing (Dolly Wells) tests all the legendary vampire elements in a cat and mouse battle against Dracula. His survival into the twenty-first century spells doom for fun-loving Lucy Westerna (Lydia West), and unfortunately, the poorly paced, uneven back and forth between the Bram Stoker source and intrusive contemporary changes make for some terribly torturous viewing.

The Rules of the Beast” opens with annoying extras already calling attention to themselves as nuns surprisingly blunt about faith or the lack thereof try to make sense of this Mr. Harker and his monstrous experience. Beginning with the convent rescued is an interesting place to recap the preceding horror, so there’s no need for weird questions on whether Harker had sex with Dracula. Such sensationalism underestimates vampire fans familiar with the tale and lures new audiences with the wrong notes. After the opening credits, snowy Carpathian prayers, crosses, and howling wolves restart the story with the more recognizable coachmen creepy and ominous castle. The full moon, booming door knocker, and fluttering bats build toward famous introductory quotes as Carfax Abbey paperwork and tutoring in English etiquette force Harker to stay with Dracula. Sadly, the actors don’t have much room thanks to the orchestrated frame – the convent interrogation intrudes on the castle tension while extra zooms or hisses over blood and broken mirrors point out the obvious. Rather than letting the audience enjoy the eerie for themselves, the harping voiceover undercuts any ominous with “So it struck you as strange? And so your search continued. Tell us.” minutia. The womanly phantoms and gothic explorations take a backseat as we’re told how Dracula gets younger and Harker grows gruesome – ruining the sinister irony by giving away gory discoveries, bodily contortions, and spinning heads. Viewers anticipate the funhouse horror shocks and laugh as the undead leap out at the screaming Harker before another monologue ruins the quiet reveal of Dracula’s crypt. Spinning panoramas and intercut, fast-talking plans over-edit Dracula in that British heist movie or clever case closed Sherlock tone. Dollies into the mouth of the biting vampire are special effects for the audience instead of painful for the victim, and everything stalls for “You were about to explain how you escaped from the castle.” redundancy. It takes ten minutes to explain how sunlight reflected from a cross burns the vampire as if it’s some shocking revelation, but at least the nuns are ready with stakes when Dracula begs for entry at their gate with severed heads and convent slaughter tacked on in the final fifteen minutes.

Crawling hands, ship-bound nightmares, and onscreen notations introduce the captain, crew, and passengers of the Demeter in “Blood Vessel” alongside ominous cargo boxes, buried alive scratches, and dead deckhands. However onscreen chess parallels, unfortunately, fall prey to typical attractions between Dracula and our female Van Helsing. Characters wax on how books must immediately engage the audience and today’s horror loves a frame narrative, yet editors would ditch the prologues, bookends, and flashbacks. Once again, the episode restarts with one and all coming aboard – including Dracula and a Goodfellas freeze-frame to point everything out for the audience. Despite the Demeter disturbia, the back and forth setting is ambiguous, and flashbacks again disrupt the point of view. Humorous questions about going to the dining room when one doesn’t eat food fall flat, and intriguing passenger opportunities go unexplored in favor of baiting homosexual mixed signals. Dracula roughly attacks men from behind before wiping the blood from his mouth with the closeted newlywed’s napkin. Bram Stoker already wrote of the bite as sex metaphor, so treating the vampire suckling, flirtatious nods, and knee squeezes as a disease to demonize gay men comes off wrong. If this Dracula was going to address more sexual topics, it should have done so properly instead of toying with both characters and viewers. The turbulent ship is a superb locale, yet there’s no sense of space. Is Dracula attacking people and oozing blood in the crowded dining room or leaving bodies above deck in front of everybody? The disjointed editing doesn’t disguise the muddled scene, for key pieces of action that should be shown in real-time are withheld for later spooky flashes. Lackadaisical live-tweeting style voiceovers with a lot of “I don’t understand” and “but I assumed” interfere with the locked cabins, unseen travelers, and tantalizing murder mystery. Searching the ship, suspect evidence, and pointing fingers on who can’t be trusted are delayed for mind games and let downs from the first episode nonsensically tossed in here. Dracula toys with the crimes so he can solve the case with winks on what a great detective he is, detracting from Van Helsing’s book quotes and passenger tensions. At first, it seems so cool to see Dracula up to no good aboard the Demeter, but once the episode backs itself into a corner, one almost wishes we had just seen the passengers on the vampire deduction themselves.

Contrived answers as to how Dracula got out of his watery grave in “The Dark Compass” aren’t shrewd, just gimmicky – pulling the rug out from under viewers with chopped up, non-linear storytelling. After Dracula labors for over two hours on adapting the beginning of the novel – albeit with new intrusions – the series up and decides to move into the present, restarting again with trailer park terrors and in world inexplicable. The vignette style disarray encourages audiences to half pay attention to fast-moving scares with no time to ask questions as the beach raid seriously gives way to Dracula laughing at technology and playing with cameras. Underwater preservation, diving teams, accidental fresh blood revivals, and science briefings studying Dracula are treated as less important than his being down with the lingo or telling doctors his blood connections are like downloading memories. Dracula has a grotesque reflection showing his age, police bulldoze a house so he won’t have a roof over his head during the day, and seeing inside the bite reveals a unique abstract limbo. Poisoned blood makes him vomit and this vampire research foundation was founded by Mina Murray in Jonathan Harker’s name, but any intriguing background or choice horror gets dropped for deadpans like Dracula wondering why his jailers gave him a toilet and “Who gave him the wi-fi password?!” Phones, photos, and raves introduce viewers to a whole new set of characters, and where Dracula painfully dragged out earlier episodes, now the cemeteries, supernatural, and undead move at lightning speed. Problematic cancerous blood, suspect scientific organizations, and ill characters drinking the vampire samples stall thanks to sassy emails from Dracula read as a voiceover – avoiding one one one confrontations for glossed over montages skipping to three months later where there’s no longer any pretense at this being a gothic novel adaptation. Existential wordy on flavor, being in love with death, and suggestions that Dracula has lived so long simply because he is a coward afraid to die are thrown at the screen in the final fifteen minutes alongside Hammer knock offs and a stake through the heart dusting ripped right from Buffy. The “Children of the night…” quote finally comes in a fascinating sequence about hearing the still conscious dead knocking in their tombs, but the lack of paranormal follow through, forgotten up to no good foundation, and barely-there medical crisis are infuriating when this science meets occult agency versus new to the millennium Dracula could have been a series in itself.

It’s a lot to ask for the audience to like an unlikable protagonist with no redeeming qualities thanks to glowing eyes, gross nails, and tasty babies in bags. Claes Bang’s Count is white-haired before being re-invigorated as a well-spoken Englishman – he has the gravitas in serious moments inspired by the novel, but the jolly good clever retorts replace any menace. Dracula need not explain anything, yet our mustache twisting, almost camp villain wastes time mansplaining into the new century even as sad crescendos suggest we should be sympathetic to his crocodile tears. His powers are more cinematic convenience than supernatural, and the glib gets old fast as Dracula complains about exercise while he swipes left for his latest food delivery hook-up. Bang deserved to have a faithful adaptation to sink his teeth into, but the script has the character patting himself on the back before giving up just because the page says so. It’s also obvious Dolly Wells (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) is our Van Helsing when we see her. Using the Stoker text as she explains the undead and waxes on having plans not faith when dealing with those denied salvation are strong enough characterizations, yet Dracula sacrifices her action with too much reflective talking. Agatha doesn’t believe in God but stays in their loveless marriage for the roof over her head, but her serious study is hampered by super sassy bordering on ridiculous. She stands face to face goading Dracula over his invitation status when she isn’t sure of the no vampire entry rules, and their debates are played for temptation. Agatha admires and encourages Dracula, but her lack of undead information leads to deadly consequences. How can she be both bungling sardonic and grandstanding with not today, Satan speeches? It’s not seeing the actors acting per se, but the scene-chewing intrusions are too apparent as Agatha tells Dracula to a suckle boy before her great-great-grand niece Zoe swaps hemoglobin with him for some cryptic ancestral conversations – which could have been awesome if they weren’t tacked on in the last twenty minutes. Despite spending the first episode with John Heffernan’s (Dickensian) pasty, deformed, and desperate Jonathan Harker in an unnecessarily drawn out account, we never really know the character because so much of his development is given to others. His outcome is also significantly different than in the novel, and Morfydd Clark (The Man Who Invented Christmas) is surprisingly almost non-existent as his fiancee Mina Murray. Glittery Lucy Westerna loves selfies and making the boys jealous, but I wish we saw Lydia Wells (Years and Years) in Victorian frocks instead of modern cool and cliché party girl garb. Viewers are tossed into her pretty snobbery before skipping to her down low Dracula feedings, and the pointless cremation screams versus skin-deep beauty wears thin fast. Writer and producer Mark Gatiss (Coriolanus) as Dracula’s lawyer Frank Renfield Skypes with the Count over his human rights being violated. This awkward self-insert calls attention to itself with fast-talking legalese tut-tuts. Renfield asks questions the viewer has, but the answers should be in the story, not told by the writer onscreen.

Steeple silhouettes and gray skies open Dracula with gothic flavor, but sweeping CGI panoramas and bugs squashing against the fourth wall are irritating when we’re here for the flickering torches, winding staircase, stone corridors, and heavy drapes of Dracula’s castle. Echoes and shadows accent the candles, lanterns, portraits, creaking doors, and scratching at the window as boxes of dirt, rats, and undead adds grossness. Hidden laboratories and crosses would suggest medieval hints, but the snarling at the camera is lame and the should be disturbing vampire baby is as laughable as that delicious lizard puppet from the original V. Raw, furry black wolf transformations are much better thanks to birthing contortions, blood, moist oozing, and nudity. Likewise, the congested, ship bound Demeter scenery is superb with all the proper maritime mood, moonlit seas, foggy isolation, and claustrophobic horror tension before fiery explosions and underwater spooky. The present, however, is extremely colorful – purple nightlife, teal laboratories, dreamy red visions, and jarring pink filters. Enchanting abbey ruins contrast the high tech prison rotating toward sunlight to keep the vampire in his place, and the organization’s Victorian roots could imply a steampunk mix with the modern technology, but any older aesthetic is sadly dropped for rapid shutter clicks, strobe headaches, and onscreen text speak. YOLO! For once I’m somewhat timely on reviewing a new series – rushed to beat spoilers because social media compatriots were already talking about not finishing the First Episode here. Unlike Sharpe and Wallander, the three ninety-minute television movie-style episode season does not work for Dracula. Maybe this format is good for a Netflix binge where we just let the whole smorgasbord play, but if Gatiss and co-creator Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) had designed Dracula as six forty-five minute episodes instead of lumping everything together, it would have helped heaps in organizing the story between adapting segments from the page and adding new material or time jumps. Rumors suggest Netflix tracks viewing duration rather than series completion, so maybe bowing out after the initial ninety minutes goes further in their algorithms than if audiences had tuned out after a forty-five-minute start? The bang for instant viewing buck shows in the mess onscreen, and the only thing that could have made this worse was if it had actually been named Dracula 2020.

Narrative interference and deviations from the novel make this Dracula terribly frustrating to watch. This is the first time I’ve felt reviewing was an obligated chore, and at times, I had to take a pause because I was so aggravated. The Transylvania start and Demeter ride imply a novel retelling, but the convent shenanigans and Van Helsing ladies past or present suggest new adventures. Attempting both in a back and forth, short attention span frame only insults audiences looking for new vampire spins, experienced horror viewers, and teachers who can tell when the student has only read the first few chapters of the assigned book and just makes up the rest. Dracula isn’t scary – the Netflix and chill model is designed to make us awe at something creepy now and again, but the try-hard gore is dang common with little sense of dread. There’s so much potential for a faithful book interpretation as well as new vampire direction, but this transparent seemingly cool ultimately ends up being the same old horror same old and Dracula wastes most of its time on nonsensical absurdities.

I feel so scathing but I started with fourteen pages of complaints and made it down to six so I guess that’s an improvement? ¯\_()_/¯

For More Vampires, revisit:

Top Horror Television

Gothic Romance Video Review

Dark Shadows Video Review

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Cellmod Review

Merrill’s Musical Musings – Cellmod Review 

Greetings and salutations. Welcome to March! It’s nearly Spring, Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner, and in California, the trees are blooming, the sun is shining, and the primary election is happening soon.

Many things are afoot in Ro’s world and things are about to get hectic. I’ve got a new supernatural suspense novel—Healer—releasing on Friday, March 13th, and then I’m off to Nashville for the Book Lovers Con March 18-22.

I plan to do some music-related visits such as Third Man Records—Jack White’s record label and vinyl factory—and southern songwriter and alternative rapper Yelawolf’s Slumerican made flagship vintage clothing store and barbershop. I’m also going on a bus tour with a bunch of drunken friends where we’re supposedly getting some history of the town, but if you have suggestions of can’t-miss music locations—bonus points if they’re haunted—please leave them in the comments or hit me up at rlmerrillauthor@gmail.com or www.facebook.com/rlmerrillauthor. I’ll be posting pics on my author page as well as my Instagram @rlmerrillauthor and I’ll tag you if you leave me a suggestion. 

This month’s review is of EDM/Trance/Trip-Hop artist Cellmod’s new album The Dissident. According to his bio, “Cellmod was born to display an adaptation to his surrounding environment. The name itself signifies a desire to unify with the very roots of one’s physical being, or in simpler terms, Cellmod is taking it back to the vibe and pulse of the music.” I can definitely feel that vibe as I listen to standout tracks such as “Ransacked” and the naughty, old school sci-fi tinged “Harder Serum.” I can picture a woman with dark hair perched atop dramatic stilettos in a fitted pencil skirt and blazer as she walks with purpose down a stark white hallway, passing unmarked doors. The clack-clack of her heels is drowned out by the ominous sound of “The Machine” as she enters a laboratory where classified experiments are being done on unsuspecting young male subjects. Oh…did my imagination carry me away there for a minute? Fine. I will say that the track “Let Them Sleep” gives me a very Nine Inch Nails groove that I dig very much. If electronic music is your jam and you like to have some well-produced, good quality background music to do your…experiments to, Cellmod is your guy. Check out The Dissidents today!

Stay tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings… 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Lore

Plotline: A woman searches for her missing son in a remote wilderness with the help of her estranged husband and a Native American friend. When an evil creature starts to hunt them, their journey becomes a fight for survival.

Who would like it: Fans of folklore, monster movies, creature features, and survival movies

High Points: The pacing and the story are both really good. 

Complaints

Overall: A pretty good way to spend a few hours

Stars: 3.5

Where I watched it: Review link provided by director 

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it is so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Five Good-Bad Horror Movies Set in the Louisiana bayou

Review by Lionel Green

A Louisiana bayou. Is there a creepier setting for horror? A marshy wetland shrouded by fog-covered cypress trees and beset by creatures lurking unseen amid the muddy swamp.

Yet the murky waters are strangely shallow in the pool of quality swamp horror movies set in Louisiana bayous. Many take a cheesy action-comedy approach to the story, while others simply fail to take full advantage of the surroundings, probably due to budget constraints.

What you end up with is a glut of films mostly mired in mediocrity. However, some are fun enough to watch if you’re a fan of low-budget horror that’s good-bad … or is it bad-good?

I grew up in the 1980s, so I don’t mind when movies mix in a little cheese with the gore. Sometimes it adds just the right amount of flavor.

Here’s a list of five of my favorite good-bad horror films set in the Louisiana bayou:

1. Hatchet (2006): This one’s a straight-up swamp slasher, and it’s just a good old-fashioned horror movie. A group of tourists embarks on a haunted swamp tour and runs into Victor Crowley, a disfigured freak of a man who’s back from the dead and wielding a hatchet. Crowley’s an awesome villain who’s played by Kane Hodder (who once played Jason Voorhees in a few Friday the 13th films).

2. Frankenfish (2004): A not-so-classic creature feature, Frankenfish is a fun ride when genetically altered snakehead fish are accidentally released into the bayou, prompting an investigation. The special effects are probably better than they should be for a 2004 movie, and the cast gives it their all.

3. Venom (2005): A combo slasher/creature feature, Venom follows a group of teenagers terrorized by Mr. Jangles, a man possessed by 13 unlucky and evil souls. Mr. Jangles is another awesome villain, plus the plot includes voodoo.

4. Creature (2011) “Best watch your step. There’s worse things than gators, you know,” warns Chopper, played by the late Sid Haig in Creature, which introduces the legendary half-man/half-gator known as Lockjaw. Unfortunately, Lockjaw’s backstory was a little “out there” for mainstream audiences, and most critics trashed the movie in an epic way. Creature was actually released nationwide and scored one of the lowest opening weekends in history for a film released in more than 1,500 theaters, earning just $327,000 in ticket sales. It deserved better than that.

5. Snakehead Swamp (2014): I need more snakehead like Christopher Walken needs more cowbell. What can I say about this one? It doesn’t quite rise to the level of Frankenfish on the Snakehead-O-Meter (which is a totally scientific piece of equipment I just made up for this column). But at least there aren’t any sharks swirling around in tornadoes. That’s reason enough to watch Snakehead Swamp.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. Lionel writes a column for HorrorAddicts.net titled The Bigfoot Files. His fiction has appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, and his short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition.

Book Review : Compression by Tim Cundle

 Compression, by Tim Cundle

Reviewed by Marie RavenSoul

Meet Flanagan, Elliot, Becky, Taylor, and Blake.

It is August 28, 1998, and Flanagan is woken up by his friend Elliot after having fallen asleep in the back seat of the car. They stop at a restaurant for coffee and discuss their plans as they head back to their small-town childhood home. After being away for ten years, they are returning for their high school reunion. Flanagan admits to wanting to visit Alison, the woman he has always loved but could never have. He mentions the dream. Elliot freaks out and tells him to never mention it again. 

As the story moves forward, Flanagan describes what it was like when he was young. When he mentions the “Black Flag tape that was eating the stereo from the inside,” I was reminded of my teenage years when my favourite album would get stuck in the tiny mechanisms of my Walkman. I would try to unravel it only to have it rip in the end. Having disdain for teachers and cops, he believes they only want compliance and order. Taking the blame for his friends, he often got arrested and went to jail. Punk rock was his favourite kind of music, and then lifestyle choices led to alcohol abuse, sex, and drugs. 

Education was of no interest to Flanagan, and all he wanted was to make his mark on the world, especially through his band, Crack Jester. He describes Elliot as a charming person who could say anything, and people would do what he asked of them. When he asked Flanagan about the old man on the beach, it riled him up, as it is the one thing they had agreed not to discuss. 

When they arrive at their destination, Flanagan gets a hotel room and is surprised by a visit from Becky, a friend from years ago. The questions she asks make him think about the life he has chosen for himself. She resents that he left home and that he has become a successful punk rock star, but when he is alone in his room, he contemplates the perks to his career, such as the four-poster bed, Jacuzzis, and the complimentary champagne and he feels like a fraud. He takes the heroin out of his bag and prepares it. As he gives a detailed account of injecting the drug, I feel like I am there with him, cringing as the needle pierces his skin. 

“Arranging a chair in front of the window so that I’d have a sea view, I tightened my belt into a tourniquet, sat down and pushed the needle in. The question of purity never even crossed my mind. Strength didn’t matter as long as the heroin hit my brain like an inbound freight train. Shit, even if I’d got a hot shot that would have been just fine with me. Over, finished, gone, done, out, without any hysteria. Pushing the plunger is part of the thrill, almost a lucky dip, you don’t know what you’re going to get and for a brief moment you’re aware of the boundary that stands between control and pleasure.” Pp 54

He returns to the cave. Taylor, who is now a police officer, steps out of the shadows and brings the past back to life. The two exchange a few words, and the tension between the old friends is palpable. A deed that they participated in as teenagers, along with the others, drove them apart, yet it will bind them together for the rest of their lives. 

Flanagan calls his manager and makes a career decision that affects Elliot. Then he gives away an item that has been an important part of his life for the past ten years. He knows that if he wants to make greater achievements, he must leave the past behind. This manner of thinking is tested at the reunion, as he is tempted by something that he has always wanted and must decide if he will partake. 

My favourite character is Flanagan. From the beginning, I was drawn into his mind. He was rough on the edges, and even though I felt sympathy for him most of the time, I wanted to throttle him for getting into certain situations and for bending his Will to Elliot’s. I like how he was never afraid to speak his mind and learned that being true to himself was crucial to being happy and successful.

Cundle has a great way with words. He is not afraid to deal with difficult topics such as cocaine and heroin use, pornography, violence, and unprotected sex. He uses description well so that the story comes alive, and the reader can picture what is happening. The dialogue is fast-paced and moves the story along, each character having a unique voice that the reader can identify. The story is told from Flanagan’s point of view and is very conversational as if he is in the room talking to you face to face. 

I enjoyed Compression very much. I had to keep reading as there was always a hint that something major was about to happen. If you like thrillers and intense character-driven stories, then this book might be of interest. 

Tim Cundle was born in Liverpool and is the creator of Mass Movement, a music and lifestyle fanzine. He has been a part of the road crew and a guitar technician for various punk bands in Canada and the United States. 

 

Black History Month : Black Devil From Hell / a Review

     Black Devil Doll From Hell or Chester Turners Revenge

  A Review by James Goodridge

“This is bad, very bad … but I love it,” I say to myself while clicking through a cornucopia of videos, reviews, soundtrack music, and other snippets, but not the full-length movie Black Devil Doll From Hell or BDDFH. Now I have a macabre love for B movies be it Sci-Fi or Horror the more absurd (see Scream Baby Scream 1969) or Grind House the better. With some low budget movies watching them you get a sense that they were made for the quick buck, but some have a feel that passion was injected into the movie kind of an Ed Wood radiance.

BDDFH was written, directed, music scored and produced by Chester Turner. Starring Shirley Jones, it was filmed in 1984 in Chicago for under $10,000 using a video camera, a VCR and a Casio organ for soundtrack music.

The ’80s were an era of mobile video freedom for people to create, a challenge to would-be amateur filmmakers. Mr. Turner took up the challenge. The plot surrounds Helen Black(Jones) a God-fearing woman who buys a three-foot doll with Rick James corn rolls from a strange gift shop, not aware that the doll is possessed by the devil. Later in the slow-paced movie, the doll comes to life and attacks her in the shower. For the rest of the movie, we’re tormented by devil doll’s old hustler voice harassing Helen as she has succumbed to his power, going on the prowl to pick up men for sexual gratification. Obie Dunson plays the Preacher in some scenes.

Years later, Turner said he stayed up three days and nights writing the script. Maybe I’m wrong because I had a hard time following parts of the movie and there is barely a plot. Now I must say that the doll itself is creepy, one of those old ventriloquist dummies with the huge eyes and to Turner’s credit you do get a visceral sense of unease.

The Casio droning on in the background makes you wish it would stop. Scenes lingering too long, stiff acting and bad lighting doom this labor of love Chester Turner produced. Selling the movie on VHS from the trunk of his car then making sales pitches in-person to video store owners generated limited profits for Turner and Jones (they were in a relationship at the time) and soon the movie was forgotten with Turner and Jones moving on to create Tales From the Quadead Zone (1987).

Over the decades,  social media has not been kind to BDDFH with would-be reviewers piling on with bad reviews. I came across one reviewer on YouTube using a racial slur when talking about Ms. Jones’s looks. But a documentary Adjust Your Tracking (2013) and a Daily Grind House article in 2013 revived interest in BDDFH. It is now the holy grail when it comes to VHS tape collectors with a tape selling between $ 419 to $1,000 online.  

Internet detective work helped me come across a Q & A segment at the 2013 Austin Film Society Festival featuring Turner and Jones. The movie now in cult status, Turner answered questions with humbleness and grace while Jones is reserved and matter of fact. Both feel vindicated, Turner still has the master copy and was redistributing it on DVD. In 2001

A non-related remake of BDDFH was released on DVD. A soft porn splatter movie mess, the best I can say about it is that… I’ll get back to you a few years from now maybe with some kind words.

At the end of the day Turner and Jones chased their dream with passion.

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eleven: Chasing Bigfoot: ‘Bigfoot Encounters’

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Episode 2 of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “Bigfoot Encounters” and is a mixture of historical accounts of sightings from the past interspersed with interviews of people who say they’ve seen Bigfoot.

Like Episode 1, the historical bits are the best parts. You can read my review of Episode 1 here.

The historical accounts are interesting enough to make Episode 2 worth a watch, including stories of a Bigfoot killing a trapper and a Bigfoot abducting a prospector. However, the interviews of modern Bigfoot witnesses do not add much to the Bigfoot canon.

The historical accounts start with a story in The Antioch Ledger from 1870 when an anonymous correspondent published the story of a Bigfoot encounter near Mount Diablo in California titled “The Wild Man of Crow Canyon.” The correspondent reportedly hid and observed two Bigfoots visiting his camp and wrote: ”It was in the image of man, but it could not have been human.”

In a book published in 1890 titled The Wilderness Hunter, future President Theodore Roosevelt recounts a trapper’s story at a pass near Montana’s Wisdom River. The trapper’s camp was destroyed twice, causing his partner and him to leave. The two split up to gather their traps before leaving, and when the trapper returned, he found his partner dead with a broken neck and fang marks on his throat. The trapper named Bauman reported seeing a strange figure before fleeing the area.

The wildest historical Bigfoot encounter happened in British Columbia, Canada, in 1924. That’s when a prospector named Ostman reported hearing “man-beasts” roaming the woods. Ostman said he was abducted by a Bigfoot. The Bigfoot carried Ostman for three hours before dropping him onto a plateau where he was held captive for six days by a family of Bigfoot. Ostman escaped by feeding snuff to the male Bigfoot, which made it groggy. Ostman did not tell his story to a newspaper until 1957.

Again in British Columbia in October 1955, a highway worker named Roe scouted an area for a future hunt and saw a female Bigfoot covered head to foot in dark brown, silver-tipped hair.

Of course, the most famous of the historical encounters occurred in 1967 near Bluff Creek in California when the iconic Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot was filmed.

The interviews of recent witnesses are tame and not filled with a lot of details.

Dr. Russ Jones, a Bigfoot researcher and author, said he’s spoken to many Bigfoot witnesses.

“I’ve had witnesses where it was traumatizing, witnesses that had to get counseling for post-traumatic stress, and people that have moved from wilderness areas,” Jones said in the documentary. “Witnesses tell me they think about their experience almost every day.”

Bigfoot investigator Ron Boles said as a young man he saw Bigfoot behind a tree 15 to 20 feet away while walking through the woods near Springfield, Missouri.

“To this day, that still affects my dreams,” Boles said.

Scott Barta, co-founder of Sasquatch Investigations of the Rockies, believes he saw the silhouette of a Bigfoot outside his tent one night when he found a print the next morning.

Bigfoot investigator Marc DeWerth said he came across a Bigfoot in 1997 while in the forests of Ohio.

Perhaps the strangest interview was with Bigfoot hobbyist Shane Carpenter who claims he’s been closely studying a family of Bigfoot since 2013 after he discovered them on a hike in southern Missouri. The documentary shows some of Carpenter’s photographs, but none of the pictures clearly show Bigfoot. Carpenter’s son and a youth pastor friend also claim to have had Bigfoot encounters.

Derek Randles, co-founder of The Olympic Project, said the most common way statistically to encounter Bigfoot is having one cross the road while you’re driving.

What should you do if you encounter Bigfoot? Wildlife researcher Doug Hajicek suggested investigating the area, document any evidence like footprints with photographs, and do not hesitate to report it to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twelve: Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth. I review Episode 3 in the 2015 documentary series Chasing Bigfoot titled “The Bigfoot Phenomenon.”

Book Review: Dark Carnival by Joanna Parypinski

Review By Daphne Strasert

I love secrets. Family secrets, small-town secrets, secrets of the universe… and I found all of those in Dark Carnival by Joanna Parypinski. If you like a good secret as much as I do, pick up a copy and enjoy.

Dark Carnival follows Dax Howard as he returns to his hometown of Conjunction, Nebraska after his father’s death. He had hoped to leave his home far behind when he went to college, but small towns have a way of pulling people back in, no matter how far they go.  The homecoming isn’t pleasant. Dax had not been close with his father—the town drunk—ever since his mother had disappeared years ago.

Returning to his hometown doesn’t just bring up unpleasant memories. Something is wrong in Conjunction, something more than drunken teen parties and the slow, creeping grip of meth addiction. Conjunction seems to be rotting from the inside.

Soon, Dax finds himself caught up in scandal, murder, and forces beyond his understanding. The travelling carnival that disappeared along with Dax’s mother comes back, and brings with it whispers of a cult responsible for missing teens in town.

Dark Carnival never lags for a moment. Parypinski creates twists in the story that are unexpected without seeming to be drawn from thin air. Elements introduced early on come back later with a satisfying payoff.

The characters feel real and believable. They tap into dark parts of American culture without coming across as contrived.

Throughout Dark Carnival, Dax struggles with bitter memories of his family and past. There is no clear answer to the difficulties he faces and there are no easy solutions to his new problems. Still, Dax faces them with determination. He does his best and wins admiration through that.

Dax is accompanied by Wyatt—the friend he left behind—and Wyatt’s sister Sarah—a teenager who has grown up too fast.

Wyatt reflects Dax’s own fears about life in Conjunction. He pushes and pulls at Dax’s resolve, testing his true convictions and bringing into question whether Dax has what it takes to solve the mysteries in his own life.

Sarah stands strong as a powerful female presence in the story. Her loyalty and fierce determination provide strength for Dax when he otherwise would give up.

All the while, the single-minded and vengeful Sheriff Anderson provides a backbone of unease throughout the story. His relentless pursuit of Dax creates an immediate sense of danger, even as a greater threat looms over Conjunction.

In her portrayal of Conjunction, Nebraska Parypinski paints a haunting picture of the Midwest. Dark Carnival leans heavily on American Gothic themes. It takes an unflinching look at what really plagues small towns in America. Conjunction feels as real as any place, even with the supernatural hiding in the unexplored forests and fields.

Parypinski is an incredible writer. She provides stunning imagery that brings the setting to life. She creates tension seamlessly within the scenes. She even tackles more difficult subjects (such as delusions, drug use, and violence) in ways that are accessible and believable. She creates an air of mystery and provides just enough explanation to elicit terror.

Dark Carnival suits fans of cosmic horror like H.P. Lovecraft or American gothic literature like Her Dark Inheritance (reviewed here on HorrorAddicts.net). If you enjoy small towns with dark pasts, terror-laced walks through the woods, and family tragedy, you should read Dark Carnival.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Family Haunts and Fears

Family Haunts and Fears 

by Kristin Battestella

These families are less than comforting for each other when it comes to ghosts, cults, and suburban frights.

Before I Wake – Mike Flanagan (Oculus) directs Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush), Thomas Jane (Dreamcatcher), Annabeth Gish (The X-Files), and Jacob Tremblay (Room) in this 2016 Netflix dark fantasy drama. In spite of the never working, always home in their mansion rich blonde white people, we hope for the couple who lost a child now making a fresh start by adopting a very special but sleepless eight year old. Group therapy’s been helping our fellow insomniac mom cope – getting the psychological metaphors out of the way while showing how our husband and wife have reacted differently to such grief. Their new son, sadly, takes out his books and flashlight to stay up all night, sneaking some serious sugar because he fears the man who eats people when he sleeps. Strange images increase about the house, and instead of the typical jerky husband, it’s nice to have a trying to be helpful doctor. The therapist, however, dismisses mom’s encounters with creaking doors, breaking glass, and ghostly figures as lucid dreams or sleep deprived waking hallucinations. Our couple is always in front of the television not talking about how they can inexplicably see and touch their late son in tender moments giving and taking away before he disappears in their arms. Naturally, they take advantage of this gift, putting on the coffee to stay up while their current dreams come true son sleeps. He can help them heal, and with such fanciful graphics, one almost forgets how they are deluding themselves by using his dreams to fix their reality. When mom drugs his milk and cake with child sleeping pills, we know why. Dad may bond with the boy, but it’s unique to see a multi-layered woman both experiencing the horror and contributing almost as a villain who thinks she’s right. The monster may not be super scary for audiences accustomed to terrifying effects, but this is about kids fearing unconscious ghouls and waking nightmares not scaring viewers. Previous foster parents are committed after talking of demons when the boy’s dreams come true, but he doesn’t know what he’s doing – unlike the adults who realize, do it anyway, then justify their response as mercy. If he can’t wake up, they can’t defeat the black vomit and flesh consuming monsters. Unfortunately, convenient hospital connections provide old records and birth mother details while the caseworker never notices the ongoing file is lifted by the subject. Confining the boy leads to a house of horrors with moths in the stairwell, cocoons, creepy kids, gouged eyes, and bathtub bizarre – which are all fine individually. However, the story backs itself into a corner by resorting to a state of mind scary at the expense of the personal fantasy, unraveling with explaining journals and a parent sugarcoating someone else’s memories so obvious Freudian questions can do the trick. With this thick case file, how did no child psychologist figure this out sooner – especially with such legalese and real-world missing persons? Rather than essentially letting mom get away with sacrificing people to overcome her grief, the finale explanation should have been at the beginning to further appreciate the boy’s torment. Despite a kind of, sort of happy non-ending, the parents dealing with a child dreamer plot makes for a mature reverse Elm Street mixing family horrors and fantastics.

Death at Love House – Couple Robert Wagner (Hart to Hart) and Kate Jackson (Dark Shadowsare writing a book on Lorna Love and stay at the Old Hollywood starlet’s creepy manor in this 1976 television movie. Gothic gates, winding drives, old fountains, and broken statues accent the past torrid and vintage bus tours, and there’s a freaky shrine, too – the preserved corpse of our beauty lying in a glass coffin. Of course this print is obviously poor, but the retro Hollywood scenery, Golden cinema looks, and seventies California style make up any difference. I wish we could see the arches and wrought iron better, but the VHS quality kind of adds a dimly lit ominous to the Mediterranean villa as retro commercials provide a vintage patina. Housekeeper Silvia Sydney (Beetlejuiceisn’t very forthcoming about enchanting portraits of the starlet, and newsreels of her funeral show a man in a cape with a black cat among the mourners. Malleus Maleficarum spell books on the shelf, sacrificial daggers, and crusty director John Carradine (Blood of Dracula’s Castle) suggest Lorna was more evil than lovely, and talk of mirrors, souls, passion, and rivals like Dorothy Lamour (Road to Bali) add to the character unto herself à la RebeccaWithout over the top visuals or in your face action for the audience’s benefit, the performances here carry the scandalous scares – jumping at the horrors as thunder punctuates terrifying encounters in the dark. Apparent heart attack victims, destroyed pictures, and warnings to leave Love House lead to locked doors, gas mishaps, and steamy showers while phonographs provide chilling music as Lorna seems to be looking out from the silver screen film reels with her hypnotic power. Bewitching dreams relive the past and wax on eternal youth as the ghostly obsessions grow. At times, the spiral stairs, red accents, and swanky are more romantic, but phantom ladies at the window and rumors of fiery rituals create sinister. Our husband is said to be going through the scrapbooks but he’s not getting any work done, remaining in denial about the basement tunnels, cult altars, pentagrams, and mystical symbols. Although the Mrs. seems calm somehow once the truth comes out, too, the creepy masks and wild reveals make for a flaming finish. There are too many tongue in cheek winks for this to be full-on horror nor can one expect proper glam and glory in such a brisk seventy-four-minute network pace. However, this is good fun for a late-night Hollywood ghost story full of meta vintage.

Kill List– Financial arguments, unemployment, and stressed parents shouting open British director Ben Wheatley’s (High-Rise) 2011 slow burn while fade ins and outs create a disconnected passage of time amid his mundane routine, tearful phone calls in her native Swedish, and brief playtime with their son. Clearly they are trying to keep it together just for him, but recession talk and conversations about their military past make dinner with friends more awkward. Despite some wine, laughter, and music; tensions remain alongside bloody tissues, mirrors, and creepy occult symbols. Foreboding rainbows, eerie skies, and contracts signed in blood lead to fancy hotels, mysterious clients, guns, and stacks of cash. This sardonic, violent lifestyle is normal to our hit men – want a hot tub, put on a nice suit and kill a few people to make money for your family! Things should be looking up, but past mistakes, religious conflicts, and hits gone wrong interfere with the fine dining, friendly chatter, stakeouts, and casually executed executions. The deliberate pace may be slow to some, however full moons, hallway zooms, and binocular views set off the lying in wait preparations, silencers, and worship regalia. Thumping body bags miss the dumpster and victims aren’t surprised their time has come, but off screen implications disturb both our hardened hit men. They are the righteous torturers breaking knee caps and bashing hands! Dead animals, blood splatter, off list hits, dirty crimes, and graphic skull work are not for the faint of heart as the kills become messy and out of control. Ominous women in white, blood stains, infected cuts – this violence is going far beyond their normal work but there’s no getting out here. Nothing good can come from this dreary potboiler as the kills increase from ironic to curious and ultimately brutal in a final act providing throwback shocks and a sense of realism straying into unreliability. Night gear observations at a fancy estate begat torches, chanting, robes, and masks. If you’ve seen enough cult horror, the ritual foreshadowing is apparent, however there’s a warped cleansing to the rain, drumbeats, and sacrifice. Gunfire, tunnels, knife attacks, screams, and unknowns make for gruesome turnabouts that bring the consequences home in a silent, disturbing, grim end.

Voice from the Stone – It’s post-war Tuscany and dilapidated castles for nurse Emilia Clark (Game of Thrones) in this 2017 tale opening with church bells, toppled statues, and autumn leaves. Letters of recommendation and voiceovers about previous goodbyes are unnecessary – everything up until she knocks on the door is redundant when the Italian dialogue explaining the situation is enough. Her charge hasn’t spoken in the seven months since his mother’s death, and sculptor dad Marton Csokas (Lord of the Ringsis frazzled, too. Our nurse is strict about moving on from a family, and although her unflinching English decorum feels like you can see her acting, this may be part of the character fronting when she wonders if she is qualified for the case. The mute son is likewise an obedient boy if by default because it takes speaking to object, and he listens to the walls to hear his dead mother. Period furnishings, vintage photos, mirrors, and candles enchant the interiors, but the stone and stucco are spooky thanks to taxidermy, strange old ladies, creaking doors, winding stairs, and broken tiles atop the towers. Wooded paths, overgrown gardens, and old bridges lead to exploring the flooded quarry, cliffs, family crypts, and stone effigies. This estate has been in the late wife’s family for over a thousand years, and forty generations are buried beneath the rocks. Noises in the night provide chases and dead animal pranks as our nurse listens to the walls to prove it’s just the settling house, rattling winds, or bubbling pipes talking. Progress with the boy takes time while billowing curtains and melancholy phonographs linger over somber scenes as she grows too attached in wearing our late mother’s clothes. Unlike her, our nurse sits docile and silent when posing for his sculpture before fantasizing some saucy as he carves. She can care for father and son – talking to portraits of the Mrs. and listening to tombs to further ingratiate herself into this family. Desperate, she hears her now, too, in eerie interludes and spooky dreams that add aesthetics yet feel like weird seventies horror movies nonsensical. Wet perils and violent slaps begat illness, but questions on whether this fever is real or psychological unravel with fog, wheezing, heartbeats, and buried alive visions face to face with the dead. Although some may dislike the ambiguous nonanswers and stilted style or find the derivative Rebecca or Jane Eyre mood and outcome obvious, the slow burn period setting makes this an interesting piece for gothic fans not looking for outright horror a minute.

 

For more Frightening Flix, revisit our Horror Viewing Lists including:

Haunting Ladies

Witches and Bayous, Oh My!

Mirrors and Superstitions

Black Horror Month : Warmth / An Unforgettable Journey

WARMTH by Sumiko Saulson

Review by Valjeanne Jeffers

In her third novel, Warmth, horror writer aficionado Sumiko Saulson weaves a supernatural labyrinth peopled with Afflicted beings or ghulah: Creatures who live by drinking the blood and eating the flesh of humans. The ghulah are intelligent meta-humans who go about their unusual lives … loving, eating, and always seeking warmth. For their transformation has rendered them unable to sustain body heat. And then there’s the second breed of preternatural creatures. The Dead: Lethal walking, breathing corpses with no other desire than to kill and eat. 

The heroine of Warmth, Leilana or, as she prefers to be called, Sera, is one of the Afflicted: A ghulah. Like all of her kind, she is not immortal but has an extraordinarily long life span. Sera was transformed and lost an eye when she was attacked by one of the Dead. And she takes great joy in hunting and killing these creatures… well aware of the dangers they pose for the world of the living. 

She looks like a young runaway, yet she is in reality centuries old, and she’s been pregnant since the Spanish Inquisition with a fetus that is also Afflicted. Yet Sera has no desire to be a mother and feels no maternal stirrings towards her unborn fetus— a child that will take centuries to grow to adulthood.  

The reader is first introduced to Leilana during the conquest of America, as she is thrust into the role of both rescuer and hunter. When a zombie attacks one of the men who has offered her shelter, thinking her to be an old woman, Sera quickly reveals herself to be a deadly supernatural being.

“She flew into the front door of the cottage, where the cause of Adolfo’s suffering became immediately apparent. The original Lazaro… the old gravedigger, had him pinned against the wall, and had bitten deeply into the flesh of his cheek, chewing it… eating it. Rotted clothes hung from the rail-thin frame of the Old Lazaro, and in places, purplish, bruised flesh showed through. The whites of his eyes had gone the cloudy yellow color of mucous. The ends of his fingers were caked with thick, wet grave dirt.

“I hate the Dead,” she hissed under her breath, running toward it. She shoved the sharpened end of her pike through the creature’s eye with such force that it went through the back of its skull, pinning it to the wall. A gelatinous mixture of curdled blood, vitreous humor and purulence issued from the ruptured visage, first slowly oozing, then gushing toward the floor.

Lifting the robe and the long skirts below it, she revealed her leg up to the knee—a small ax was strapped to the outside of her calf in a leather holster. She removed the weapon with a single graceful motion and shortly had it level to the creature’s neck.”

Six hundred years later, Sera is still living, still hunting… and still cold. But now she lives in a modern world: Full of new and lethal dangers. She has enemies. The most dangerous one a psychopathic ghula, whom she crossed paths with long ago. This maniac is convinced that Sera has stolen her baby from her womb, and is determined to reclaim the infant.  

Thus Warmth is a story that challenges the notions of womanhood and beauty. When Sera has the opportunity to have her scared face repaired, she decides to keep her visage as it is— scared though it may be. She cherishes her ruined face because it is the only way to preserve her cherished memories. 

When she looked in the mirror and saw her face, Sera remembered so many friends she’d had in her long past who were no longer with her. Perhaps even more so, she liked it because it was the only thing left in the world to remind her of the life she had before her Affliction—a short life, and difficult. It was gone now, faded into the pages of history.

Her marked face and her birth name were all she had left of it. 

Yet throughout her journey, we are reminded of just how beautiful Sera really is … once one looks beyond her face. This is a novel about becoming: Growing, and reinventing oneself when it’s necessary for survival. 

Saulson has spun a rich, multi-layered tale of both dark humor and nail-biting suspense. Along with the tough survivor Sera, we become acquainted with an entourage of characters; some human, some ghulah, and each with their own complicated, twisted lives. Among this cast is Sweet Melana, the brooding Larenzo, and S&M Master Fadriqueallies, foes. And all preparing for a war that may consume both the Afflicted and humankind alike. 

Saulson is a consummate horror writer, and in Warmth she has given us a horror novel that we will never forget.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Classic Horror Titans!

 

 

It’s our Frightening Flix Horror Titans of Yore come to celebrate our HorrorAddicts.net anniversary!

Alfred Hitchcock Primer Video

The Birds

Christopher Lee Delights

Edgar Allan Poe Video Revisit

Jean Rollin Saucy

Mario Bava Special

The Oblong Box and Scream and Scream Again

Peter Cushing Passion

Silent Film Scares

Vincent Price Maestro

 

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

 

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir a Delightful Little Ghostly Romance

Reviewed By Kristin Battestella

I really dislike modern repetitive romantic comedies with that hint of tearful seriousness and sap sap sap. However, classic romances with fun and paranormal do wonders- and I can’t help myself, I’m watching the 1947 treat The Ghost and Mrs. Muir yet again!

Widow Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) – along with her daughter Anna (Natalie Wood) and beloved maid Martha (Edna Best) – leaves her in-laws and takes a cottage on the Whitecliff coast. Unfortunately, Mrs. Muir soon discovers the late owner Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison) already inhabits the seaside escape. Captain Gregg agrees to keep his hauntings to a minimum for Anna’s sake and soon helps Lucy financially by collaborating on his memoirs with her. Could it be there is something more between them? Unfortunately, artist Miles Fairley (George Sanders) also romances the Widow Muir, and he is a ‘real’ man after all, much more able to return Lucy’s affection than the ghostly Daniel. But which does she really love?

Though played a little spooky to start- a widow moving into a mysterious cliffside house all alone– director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Cleopatra, Guys and Dolls) and writer Philip Dunne (How Green Was My Valley, The Robe) keep Josephine Leslie’s source tale progressive and fun. Instead of wasting time on major ghostly special effects or uber kinky relationships as today’s films might, time is taken to know the characters and enjoy the mix of the living and the dead while the romance blooms. Even as much as I love creepy fair, it’s simply wonderful that The Ghost and Mrs. Muir remains simple, innocent, and not totally spooky. Yes, the corporeal barriers and introductory scares might be enough to get a viewer in the door- but the interplay of the cast carries the film. The focus on two shot debates and fore blocking camerawork shows that these two people can hotly interact, inhabit the same space, even coexist and fall in love, but sadly not actually be together-especially when that two-shot becomes a jealous three-way scene. The lovely dilemma and heart of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is allowed to play itself out on screen instead of being squashed by ghostly glitters or Meg Ryan’s lips. And what an ending!

Tragically, Gene Tierney (Laura, Leave Her to Heaven) didn’t make very many films and is more well known today for her health issues and off-screen romances if at all. Fortunately, she did indeed leave us with a set of classics! The turn of the century costumes on Tierney look great, adding period flavor, grace, and an element of change as Lucy herself sways between men over the years. Tierney really is just lovely inside and out- even if the presentation is a little too post-Victorian by way of the forties for some viewers. However, there’s also a fine modern contrast, for Lucy-being a single mother disbelieving in such paranormal ‘fiddlesticks’- is in many ways ahead of her onscreen time. She defiantly calls out the ghostly instead of being the little widow in black and blossoms as a woman because of it. Although I’m not sure about Tierney’s accent amid all the really English folks, her tone is still proper and classy nonetheless. Not many actresses today can handle material like this- not without it getting cliché like those aforementioned run of the mill contemporary romances. I also confess, penning a book to save the finances of one’s house is perhaps the dream of every down on his luck writer, and it’s just another fun, personal and endearing element I love in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Oh, that crusty and delightful Rex Harrison! Though initially seemingly a silhouetted menace with a great bellowing voice, Captain Gregg is built up carefully and creepily toward a sweet and stormy reveal. We expect Daniel to be so upper class and debonair ala My Fair Lady, but Harrison’s rough around the edges opposite to Lucy and near swashbuckling style is wonderful. His dialogue, delivery, and no holds barred attitude are somehow also suave; Gregg compliments Lucy on her figure and quotes poetry! The way the grizzly ghost mellows is utterly bittersweet, and it’s all done without losing any charm or gruff. Of course, George Sanders (Rebecca, All About Eve) is also his usually slick and exceptional self. We might not find either man uber attractive or Team This and Team That in today’s standards, but the juicy choices and whirlwind escapades both men offer is just that- an onscreen delight. Sanders just as easily sweeps the viewer away by painting scandalous portraits of Lucy in a bathing suit as we are also charmed by Harrison’s dreamy soliloquies. Edna Best (The Man Who Knew Too Much) is a little annoying as the stereotypical English maid who always talks so sassy, knows what’s what, and makes no Cockney about it! However, she earns her stripes as the film progresses. Little Natalie Wood (The Searchers, West Side Story) is also a somewhat goofy, but her fans will enjoy seeing her 10-year-old charm.

The black and white photography of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir hampers the visuals a bit, but the silver screen layers also add plenty of atmosphere. The ghostly lighting, candles, gas lamps, creepy paintings, and the shadows created work beautifully. The fake long shot stills are obvious, yes, but understandable. Besides, the sweet cottage interiors are more Victorian mansion than cottage as we would think of it, and the seaside locations are dynamite. The great ghost laughter, the usual glory of storms and wind, and Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, The Devil and Daniel Webster) crescendos add the audio icing. The paranormal hints and hijinks still work, and I love how the darkness surprises us into never knowing quite where the Harrison appearing and disappearing tricks are. Turn of the century cars, glorious feathers, furs, hats, and gloves! Sigh, but those bathing suits! Those are a definite no.

Yes, I’m sure a lot of this can be merely quaint or hokey to some, but fans of the cast or classics in general surely already know and love The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Fortunately, there’s also nothing so ghostly or romantic to dissuade younger viewers, and recent audiences of contemporary paranormal or standard romance should most definitely try this treat ASAP.

For more Lighthearted Classics, revisit:

I Married a Witch

Bell, Book, and Candle

Gothic Romance Video Review

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Top Horror Television!

 

Say hello to our favorite HorrorAddicts.net 10iversary television blogs!

 

The Addams Family 1 2

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Dark Shadows Video Primer

The Frankenstein Chronicles

Friday the 13th The Series 1 2 3

The Munsters 1 2

Penny Dreadful 1 2 3

Tales from the Crypt 1 2 3

Tales from the Darkside 1 2 3

Thriller 1 2

 

Merril’s Musical Musings: Her Despair and Best of 2019

Her Despair and Best of 2019

Greetings and Salutations for a brand new year and decade that I am confident will be filled with amazing music. I’m Ro, your musical tour guide, and today I want to share with you some of my favorites from the past year and introduce you to a Goth rock outfit from the UK called Her Despair. Their music will take you right back to those 80s afternoons sitting in your bedroom listening to cassettes—or perhaps your vinyl collection—waiting for the night to fall and bring with it the creepy darkness where anything can happen and life is just a little more interesting.

Her Despair melds together sounds of Peter Murphy and Sisters of Mercy as well as current artists like Nightwish and HIM. Their latest release, Exorcisms of Eroticism, was released in summer 2019 and contains melodic jams like “Pandaemonium” and “The Exorcism,” which has an appropriately dark music video to go along with it. “In That Moment” is my favorite track on the EP. The haunting, romantic vocals dance over the dichotomy of the synthesizers and guitars, giving it a nostalgic sound, but you could also expect to hear it on a modern-day alternative rock station. “Like a Crucifixion” is another excellent example of their sound. A steady rock beat with powerful lyrics make for an enjoyable combination and will have you slipping into Her Despair like a comfortable pair of black fishnets…or a worn pair of Doc Martens. 

For more on Her Despair, check them out at the links below. 

The Exorcism” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clqrj6rftJA 

https://www.facebook.com/herdespair/

https://www.instagram.com/herdespairband/?hl=en

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVZhKFjVsq1Wpbruy-dryuw/featured

 

Ro’s Recs

Many great albums were released in 2019, and while I’m not a big list maker, I thought I’d share a few of them here. Some bands have been with us for decades like Slipknot and Korn and others were new to me. Bands like Papa Roach, Sleeping with Sirens, Volbeat, and Bring Me The Horizon took big risks on a new sound that paid off well. We lost Vinnie Paul from Hellyeah, but the band gave him a beautiful sendoff with Welcome Home. Motionless in White and New Year’s Day put out powerful albums that cemented their status in the rock community as artists that have fought long and hard to be there. Baroness returned from a harrowing tragedy to put out a strong album. I Prevail had a fairytale beginning with a cover of Taylor Swift and this year they’ve been nominated for a Grammy! And lastly, The Hu, Fever333 and Bad Wolves were all new bands to me that I am glad I took a chance on. I hope you will too. 

Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

Bring Me The Horizon – Amo

Papa Roach – Who Do You Trust?

Hellyeah – Welcome Home

Motionless in White – Disguise

New Year’s Day – Unbreakable

Volbeat – Rewind, Replay, Rebound

Korn – The Nothing

The Hu – Gereg

Baroness – Gold and Grey

Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N.

Fever333 – Strength in Numb333rs

Sleeping With Sirens – How It Feels To Be Lost

I Prevail – Trauma 

There’s a wide variety on this list, a little something for everyone, so as we prepare for a new year of music, give some of these a listen.

What are you looking forward to in 2020? Leave a comment and let me know what music I should be looking out for in 2020. And with that, Stay Tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings…

 

Book Review: The Collected Nightmares by Fred Wiehe

The Collected Nightmares by Fred Wiehe

Content Warnings: The Collected Nightmares contains graphic depictions of sex, violence, and rape.

The Collected Nightmares is a selection of poetry, short stories, and novellas by Fred Wiehe that showcases his breadth as a writer.

Wiehe takes an honest look at what we really fear lurks under the bed or in the closet (or in our own mind). He doesn’t shy from addressing deep demons like suicide and madness. Many of Wiehe’s works included novel creations of monsters and myths. His vague and terrifying interpretations of our darkest fears feel far from cliché. None of his characters are guaranteed a happy ending (or an ending at all). In many ways, it’s more satisfying to see Wiehe embrace the uncertainty of the real world in his fiction.

Wiehe has a particular skill with shorter fiction and some of my favorite pieces were his shortest stories (including “A Whistle and a Tap Tap Tap” and “Shoot Me”). While the style and themes of his stories vary, they all include a flair for the unexpected. Twist endings are nothing new in horror, but Wiehe’s hold that element of the truly shocking that make them stand out.

The two longer pieces in the collection—“Under the Protection of Witches” and “Resurrected”—deserved their prominent placement in the book. They were action-packed and complex with fully formed plots and characters. “Under the Protection of Witches” was adapted from a screenplay and I would certainly love to see it as a movie in the future. “Resurrected” fits into a larger series of novels about immortal legend Aleric Bimbai. Wiehe set the stage for a larger world while still offering an accessible taste in short form. “Resurrected” could very well be a stand-alone novel and I hope the other works in the series give the characters ample space for growth.

Overall, I enjoyed the collection and recommend it for fans of horror (particularly with a leaning toward action). The Collected Nightmares is a comprehensive sampler of Wiehe’s writing and a good read for horror addicts looking for a new favorite author.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Our Favorite Horror Movie Reviews!

 

Follow these links to reminisce with our HorrorAddicts.net Anniversary look at some of our Favorite Frightening Flix Reviews! 

Black Death

Brimstone

Bone Tomahawk

Crimson Peak

Eden Lake

The Exorcist

House of Usher

Only Lovers Left Alive

Phantom of the Opera (2004)

The Wicker Man (1973)

 

 

Book Review : Whisper Music (The Morrigan Canticles) by JBToner

Review by Jason Morrison

What can I say about Whisper Music  ( The Morrigan Canticles)? This book had everything you could ever enjoy:  buddy cops, ancient vampires, and a war against the forces of evil.

The book opens when Danyeala Morrigan, a young vampire given vastly superior powers by one of the last original vampires, is in an epic battle with the Virgin Mary, yes, the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ.

When Danyeala tastes the blood of Mary, she gains new powers and soon after begins to develop a change of heart, leading her into contact with two Boston cops. One is detective Harry Blake, the other a rookie detective named Danny Mcardle. The two are investigating a homicide victim whose spine was ripped out of his body. Soon after detective Blake and Danyeala cross paths, Blake finds out that vampires are real and a group of vampire hunters run by the Vatican, joins the story.

I really enjoyed this novel, one of my favorite things was the interaction between Blake and Mcardle, one being the older grizzled cop and the other a light-hearted jokester.

The author does a great job of describing scenes in wonderful detail, like how Danyeala must decide whether to embrace her vampire nature fully, or piece her humanity back together and salvage whatever good she has left in her. If you are not afraid of hardcore violence, lots of cursing, and non-sex sexuality then I would recommend this novel to you.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jason Morrison is a first time reviewer for HorrorAddicts.net.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Callous

Plotline: Shot during a mugging a girl believes she woke up in a hospital, only to realize she is stuck in a coma. She endures the nightmares of existing in the in-between as she fights to wake up from her sinister nightmare.

Who would like it: Fans who appreciate low budget, film school indie films. Foreign films, dream-scapes , surreal films and stories about purgatory. 

High Points: Strong story concept 

Complaints: My only complaint is the English subtitles because everyone in the movie is speaking English. Its clear that English is the actors 2nd or 3rd language but with that being said you can understand them perfectly. I felt that the subtitles took away from the movie.   

Overall: Short entertaining film with a strong story concept that I really enjoyed.

Stars: 3.1

Where I watched it: Review link provided by the director.

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Tales from the Darkside Season 3

More Scares to be had in Tales from the Darkside Season 3

by Kristin Battestella

The 1986-87 Third Season of Tales from the Darkside features twenty-two more episodes of horror and oddities beginning with “The Circus” premiere written by series producer George Romero. In a series that usually puts the bizarre first, this episode truly feels like a horror tale as Showman William Hickey (Tales from the Crypt) promises mummy and vampire spectacles to a journalist trying to debunk the smoke and mirror ghouls. The bloody feedings and hungry dogs, however, make for some disturbing showmanship – a creepy little parable done with very little, using one setting and power of suggestion scares for a fitting twist. Covered furniture and a murderous history don’t deter a couple from their spooky new home in “Florence Bravo.” This is supposed to be a fresh start, but the wife – who was put in an institution by her husband after a nervous breakdown – isn’t taking her pills as the rocking chair moves by itself and ghostly visions escalate. The haunted house set up is familiar, but she loves their spooky old home and her adulterous husband will pay the price for the house’s evil ideologies with bloody floorboards, gunshots, and killer ghosts. A suspicious dollhouse in “The Geezenstacks” comes complete with the eponymous doll family, and their morbid playtime whispers come true as the cracks begin to show with implied domestic violence and dire real-world consequences. The bemusing bizarre here is less annoying than other kid-centric episodes thanks to creepy toys and that quintessential Tales from the Darkside quirky likewise seen in “Black Widows.” Our homebody knitting mother insists enough company comes to her, like salesmen and ministers knocking on the door. However, visitors who squash and kill a spider in her house will pay the pincer price – even the fiance who’s not good enough for her daughter. He’s too thin and the web-like laundry hangings add to the obvious, but there’s a sardonic wit to the family secret. Unfortunately, the eerie mood escalates for an unscrupulous yuppie art dealer in “Heretic” when the inscriptions on a valuable Inquisition painting would have him learn the error of his ways. The torture and warped religion lead to terrible twists on life imitating art with pain and fiery consequences.

Warnings to behave and not do anything you wouldn’t do on network television accent the homemaker quaint in “A Serpent’s Tooth.” Mom insists she nags because she loves, however her teen daughter and college drop out son’s choices will be over her dead body. She receives the eponymous charm with a warning to be careful what she wishes for – because she may get it. The television, radio, and telephone disappear when she threatens how inconvenient life would be without them, and when she tells an obnoxious kid next door that his face will get stuck that way it does. Talk about a salty lesson! By contrast, a greedy advertising executive sees a New Orleans bakery and its intoxicating cookies as a golden opportunity in “Baker’s Dozen.” The secret ingredients of a thirteenth specialty make for twisted connections between men, dough, and gingerbread in this tasty voodoo turnabout also written by Romero. Of course, the kids in “Seasons of Belief” are at the age where they don’t believe in Santa Claus – but their older, festive parents warn them of a more terrible figure called The Grither. While disbelieving in Saint Nick only makes your presents under the tree disappear, The Grither is the most awful thing in the world, and they’ve called him by saying his name out loud. Tales from the Darkside provides a certain warped amusement here with a holiday episode featuring a deliberate act to scare kids, twisted carols and all. A mannequin trades places with a burglar for “Miss May Dusa,” and creepy shadows accent the seedy subway and what goes on after hours sunglasses at night. Our cursed lady doesn’t remember who she was before, but a jazzy street musician tries to guess, making for an interesting twofer with sadness, despair, and bitter realizations layering a more serious drama on the horror of loneliness. Little Chad Allen (Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman) says if you leave him a note, the milkman will give you presents in “The Milkman Cometh,” and a family in debt that has lost a baby is rewarded with another pregnancy. Was it a response from the ‘While You Were Sleeping Dairy’ or a coincidence? Increasing conflict, financial struggles, and drinking lead to eerie silhouettes and blue lighting making what was once a normal neighborhood visitor totally creepy with bizarre revelations and eponymous winks.

Jeff Conway’s (Grease) typing his latest in “My Ghostwriter – The Vampire,” and he’s happy writing hack vampire tropes for the money – until Dracula shows up on his balcony. He’s there to prove his powers, proposing sanctuary in exchange for his nine hundred years of bloody details. The toothy secrets lead to literary success, and the traditional vampire motifs with eighties spins are great fun. However Dracula wants his share of the spoils, and there’s an underlying ominous thanks to dining in on the maid neck bites and handy silverware. Robert Bloch’s (Psycho) “Everybody Needs a Little Love” starring Jerry Orbach (Law & Order) has noir mood with cigarettes, Truman posters, and vintage pubs. Our barfly friend brings home a mannequin, drinking, dancing, and taking a week off from work to cook dinner and sit ‘Estelle’ at the table. Who needs a nagging broad when you can have a classy dame who just sits there and smiles! He insists she’s no prude, adding to the old fashioned creepy and lively twists with a hint of something more sinister as her look or positioning seems slightly different from glance to glance. An old crone and her young-looking friend reunite for a bitter 1692 anniversary in “Auld Acquaintances” amid talk of burning houses, lightning strikes, poisoned cats, and puritan flashbacks. Evil chants, talismans, chokings, and threats set off the zany performances alongside Salem imagery and some intense 1987 shocking language on whores and devils. The bargains in blood and pacts to live forever are well done in this confined two-hander. More spell books, enchantments, and boils in “The Swap” don’t impress the young wife of a man who can’t compare to his mama – the greatest conjurer Louisiana ever saw. So long as she ‘plays house’ each night, his wife will get all their millions, and she goes upstairs with her revolting husband rather than be poor. Of course, she’s secretly with the hunky handyman, and Tales from the Darkside gets a little saucy with talk of ‘gentlemanly pleasures,’ handcuffs, and bottles forced into a man’s mouth. The twisted little threesome escalates with poison, wills, and stipulations on who the wealthy widow must marry next. By contrast, it’s all idyllic mid-century sophistication in “The Enormous Radio” with martinis, classical music, and period touches raising the unique horrors. Do our eavesdroppers interfere when they adjust the dial and hear their neighbors or is it none of their business? Unfortunately, the addictive gossip gives way to heated arguing, and the sad, depressing strain of hearing the whole building’s troubles ultimately overwhelm our once perfect couple.

Early in Year Three, however, back-to-back kid tales sag Tales from the Darkside thanks to an annoying little girl disliking her engaged sister’s kisses with her jerky fiance in “I Can’t Help Saying Goodbye.” The titular premonitions lead to explosions, funerals, and a whiff of religion versus innocence but the crappy attitudes can’t make a thin script more eerie. “The Bitterest Pill” offers another petulant kid and nasty dad, and the family remains pissy even after they win the lottery. The in your face speed talking over the eponymous drug that provides total recall takes the investments over the top and the fittingly harsh turnabout drags on too long. Southern charm schmoozing over the politician at dinner in “Deliver Us From Goodness” also repeats the be careful what you wish for come ups that were done better several episodes prior, and the religious hypocrisy gets lost in the out of control humor and off the mark obnoxiousness. “My Own Place” may have $285 rent control, however, there’s a semi-mystical roommate that won’t leave – despite the yuppie renter’s curry jokes, Calcutta insults, and racist slurs. Such demeaning isn’t scary, and our jerky new tenant realizes he’s getting what he deserves too late. A stereotypical gold-digging femme fatale widow cut off from the company stock in “Red Leader” adds to the slow, generic corporate talk of cooked books and shady real estate as hellish minions from below debate over the same old evil businessmen tropes. Yawn. Likewise, a greedy young apprentice tries on a pair of magically crafted shoes in “The Social Climber.” He can really go places in this fancy pair, but his shoemaker boss warns him there will be a price. Unfortunately, the magical elements can’t disguise the transparent end, and today some viewers may be completely baffled by what a cobbler even is. A drunk having a heart attack to open “Let the Games Begin” leads to mirrors on the ceiling, hellish shadows, and heavenly echoes arguing over who gets to claim his soul. Both try to entice him by appearing as his angelic best friend and his vixen sister-in-law. However the askew angles, sardonic tricks, and heart beating suspense are too uneven, attempting too much between humor and cynicism in a plain story that gets irritating fast. What is scary are those yuppie styles – plaid sweaters tied over the shoulders, tube socks, and dated feather hair on top of crimped ponytails, neon fashions, and Like a Virgin fishnets. The Tales from the Darkside title card was changed for this season, the menu design on the Season Three DVDs is slightly different, and there are no subtitles. Cramped eighties trailer homes, small sets, and single locations with red lighting and dark dressings may be cheap, however, the claustrophobia is also very effective amid atmospheric thunder and that indelible, chilling Tales from the Darkside theme. Sound effects accent the monster makeup, blood, gothic archways, and older Victorian styles. Retro kitchens, typewriters, and big boob tubes harken a mid-century housewife mood – pink wallpaper, dusty rose doilies, and old bag vacuums contrast the giant eighties portable brick phones and pathetically dated computers. These ladies have to take off a clip earring to use the rotary phone and count the teaspoons to make that old fashioned coffee! While such a long season has its ups and downs thanks to dated or hammy half hours that are weird rather than scary, Tales from the Darkside Season Three once again provides creepy, chilling, and atmospheric parables for a nostalgic horror marathon.

Revisit Tales from the Darkside  Season 1 or Season 2 and read up on our Tales from the Crypt Reviews Seasons 1, 2, or 3, too!